Book Excerpts

Elegance and Spiritual Repose in the Darkness of a Japanese Latrine

Jun'ichiro Tanizaki's 1933 essay In Praise of Shadows is a tribute to a tenebrous, subtle Japanese aesthetic that the novelist upheld in opposition to the bright and shiny principles of design that he saw as the hallmark of the west. His dissertation is launched in the humble toilet, hailing the bathrooms of the temples and… Continue reading Elegance and Spiritual Repose in the Darkness of a Japanese Latrine

Japanese Poetry, Poetry

Dogen’s Waka on Impermanence

Waka is a Japanese word for poem that surfaced more than a millenium ago to differentiate the Chinese kanshi poems from the work of local scribes. A waka can have a long or short form, and the short ones can often read like haikus, a poetic embodiment of transience. This short one was written by… Continue reading Dogen’s Waka on Impermanence

Book Excerpts

Plum Blossoms Harmonize with Snow – Shundo Aoyama

Shundo Aoyama first entered a Zen temple at the age of 5, and became a priest at 15. She is one of the most well-known Zen masters in Japan and at 86 years old, she is still active in her teaching of the practice. Her book, Zen Seeds, is a collection of short reflections about… Continue reading Plum Blossoms Harmonize with Snow – Shundo Aoyama

Japanese Poetry, Poetry

Muso’s Green Mountains

Muso Soseki was a Japanese monk born in the 13th century who achieved satori at the age of 30 while staying in a hermitage in the countryside. One night he was walking about in the dark and reached out for a wall he thought was there. When he realized it wasn't, he gave a great… Continue reading Muso’s Green Mountains