Ancient Japanese Rap Battling

With all the time I have to kill while in quarantine in the den, I have been cleaning up my old blog on the Hyakunin Isshu poetry anthology. It’s been great rediscovering things, including poem 60 of the anthology, a poem composed by Lady Izumi‘s daughter, Ko-Shikibu no Naishi (小式部内侍, d. 1025). Lady Izumi byContinue reading “Ancient Japanese Rap Battling”

Bad Aura

Recently, I learned of a clever proverb in Japanese culture: 息の臭きは主知らずiki no kusaki wa nushi shirazu Japanese Proverbs: Wit and Wisdom, by David Galef This proverb, literally means that the owner doesn’t know the stench of their own breath. Obviously this is not meant to be literal, instead it is about people being unaware ofContinue reading “Bad Aura”

Waves and Water

Ryōhen (良遍, 1194-1252), was a prominent Yogacara-Buddhist scholar and faithful disciple of Jōkei, often credited as a reformer of Japan’s Hossō sect during the medieval period in Japanese Buddhist history. In James L. Ford’s book on Jokei and Medieval Japanese Buddhism, Professor Ford quotes this famous “restorer” when he describes the famous Buddhist metaphor ofContinue reading “Waves and Water”

Japanese New Year: a shopping list

If you, or a loved one, are celebrating Japanese New Year, Oshōgatsu (お正月), you may need to do some shopping. During the December in 2021, we got snowed in really bad, and my wife couldn’t go to the local Japanese supermarket to buy goods and ingredients herself. So, I went on her behalf using publicContinue reading “Japanese New Year: a shopping list”

Why Buddhism? A Brief Response

Buddhism is a religion that, while widespread in terms of numbers and influence on world cultures,1 is not well-understood in the West. Chances are you, you’ve probably heard of it, or seen something like the Happy Buddha in gardens or Chinese restaurants. You’ve probably have an idea of what “Zen” is, and so on. BuddhismContinue reading “Why Buddhism? A Brief Response”

Designing Big Boss Encounters in D&D

Recently, my kids and I finished our long-term campaign in Eberron. The big climax to the campaign was a battle with the mad scientist who had transferred his consciousness to a great glass orb, and whose stat block was similar to a Beholder. But then, I started having misgivings, and was worried about the kidsContinue reading “Designing Big Boss Encounters in D&D”

Ravenloft Novels

I like to visit my local Half Price Books store from time to time, and lately, I picked up some old fantasy novels, including a few from the Ravenloft series: The Ravenloft setting is a very famous gothic setting in Dungeons and Dragons that has been around all the way back to 2nd edition AD&DContinue reading “Ravenloft Novels”

Bad Teachers in Buddhism

One of the earliest recorded teachings in the Buddhist canon is something called the Sutta-nipata a collection of discourses by the Buddha to various disciples. These are not sutras in the strictest sense, but are part of the earliest collections, and represent some of the closest things we have to the Buddha’s original teachings. InContinue reading “Bad Teachers in Buddhism”