What is Japanese Zen?
To define something is always difficult, in particular the lofty and high minded things.
So I admit that it is impossible to define Zen.
But anyway, I’d like to present two definitions of Zen I love:
1) communication without words
2) expression without languages
No one doubts that these definitions pose us more riddles in themselves.
But at least, they help us understand the reason why Zen is often considered as a philosophy rather than a religion.
1. Zen and Zazen
Zen is a sect of Buddhism that came from China in the late 12th century.
After its introduction, it soon became favored among Samurais of the dominant class.
Because they valued
which Zen repeatedly emphasizes in their teaching.
Although it is a sect of Buddhism, Zen is often considered as a philosophy rather than a religion, as I mentioned above.
While believers in other sects of Buddhism stressed sutra recitation or invocations, Zen seekers try to achieve enlightenment through Zazen.
As you may know, Zazen is a spiritual meditation born in India.
In the Zazen, the practitioner sits cross-legged with perfectly straight back and slightly opened eyes.
He breathes regularly and breathing is very important in the Zazen.
This meditation consists of an internal communication with oneself.
In the 14th century, cultural activities such as tea ceremony, gardening art or painting have developed among the monks of Japanese Zen.
Since then, Zen has had a huge influence in the Japanese spiritual world.
2. Japanese Zen temple
The best way to practice Zazen and touch Zen spirit is to stay in Zen temple (Dojo of Zen) in Japan.
Therefore I’m happy to introduce you to some Zen temples.
The following temples accept you openly and offer Zen practice together with accommodation and meals.
Located in Koshu city, Yamanashi prefecture, the BOGETSU-san belongs to ERINJI, a family temple of Takeda Shingen.
By staying in this temple, you can experience Zazen lead by Japanese priest, traditional tea ceremony and Japanese vegetarian food.
Let’s release your mind and detox your body.
2) Nisonin Shukubo Entsoki
Located in Nagato city, Yamaguchi prefecture, Nisonin Shukubo Entsoki is an accommodation facility of Nisonin which is famous for its five-ringed pagoda.
Surprisingly, this pagoda is said to be the tomb of Yang Geifei.
As you may know, she was a well known beauty of Tang Dynasty in China (maybe one of the three most beautiful women in history).
3) Zen- Kappa Dojo
Zen-Kappa Dojo locates on the hillside of Gosikidai (Takamatsu city, Kagawa prefecture).
This Goshikidai is a plateau of 400 meters above sea level and belongs to the Seto Inland Sea National Park.
In addition, this place is known as the producing area of sacred stone called “sanukites” .
4) Temple Stay Seizanji
Seizanji temple locates on top of a hill in the center of Tsushima, Nagasaki prefecture.
As a result, the temple commands a splendid view.
Seizanji temple offers travelers of the world to share their everyday lives.
Therefore you can experience the traditional aspect of Japanese culture in everyday life styles.
5) Zen Experience at Zenpoji Temple
Welcome to Zenpoji Temple! Upon meeting a Buddhist monk and your interpreter at the main gate of Zenpoji Temple, you will begin your orientation into the world of Zen Buddhism with an introduction to meditation.
Next you will be able to put this newly learned technique into practice with a zazen meditation experience, which is performed inside a hall normally off limits to anyone besides the temple monks.
After learning the ins and outs of zazen meditation, your training will continue with participating in an authentic Buddhist lunch ceremony.
As the day proceeds, you will then move to a worship hall to undergo a Zen prayer ritual accompanied by a monk as your spiritual guide .
Finally, your visit to Zenpoji Temple will conclude with a walk around the temple grounds, visiting some hidden areas of the complex that are only accessible when accompanied by a temple monk.
When the tour is concluded, your interpreter would be happy to call you a taxi to bring you to your next location.
Public buses to Tsuroka Station are also available at the Zenpotera Bus Stop located within walking distance (5 minutes) of the main gate.