The organ of the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture.

Articles Featured in our Library:

There is little in Kapleau’s book to suggest that his teachers were anything but respected members of orthodox Zen monastic orders. Yet such was not the case, for in 1954 Yasutani Hakuun 安谷白雲 (1885-1973), the Zen priest whose teachings are featured in The Three Pillars of Zen, severed his formal ties to the Soto school in order to establish an independent Zen organization called the Sanbokyodan 三宝教団, or “Three Treasures Association.”

Sōtō Zen temples in Japan kept necrologies in which the ancestors of outcaste members of their congregations were clearly identified, sometimes by derogatory titles such as “beast” or “less than human.” Indeed, Sōtō priests routinely allowed access to these memorial registers by private investigators, who perform background checks to insure that prospective marriage partners or company executives do not come from outcaste families.

What was the response of Soto Buddhist priests to the social situation facing Japan at the beginning of the twentieth century? What influence did their religious background have on their responses to the modernization of Japan? This article examines the lives and thought of two Japanese Soto Buddhist priests-Takeda Hanshi and Uchiyama Gudo-both with the same religious training and tradition, yet who chose diametrically opposite responses.

Insisting that cremation was sanitary and that it also saved grave space while facilitating- ancestor worship, cremation supporters appropriated state-sanctioned values and aims to win repeal of the ban only two years after it went into effect. Ironically, the end result of the ban was a widely accepted rationale for cremation, which was transformed from a minority practice into a majority one. By the end of the twentieth century, cremation had become the fate of nearly every Japanese.

In the poetic commentary Nameless Notes (1211–1216), the poet-priest Kamo no Chōmei explains that unlike prose, a poem “possesses the power to move heaven and earth, to calm demons and gods,” because, among other attributes, “it contains many truths in a single word.”

Embarrassed the organizers were indeed, even dismayed, when they were showered with fervent thanks from the women participants for organizing such a wonderful spiritual experience…

In the early decades of the twentieth century, as Japanese society became engulfed in war and increasing nationalism, the majority of Buddhist leaders and institutions capitulated to the status quo. One notable exception to this trend, however, was the Shinko Bukkyo Seinen Domei (Youth League for Revitalizing Buddhism), founded on 5 April 1931.