The Amazing Adventures of Xuanzang

One of the most important figures in Buddhism and East Asian history, arguably, is also one of the least known outside of some cultural circles. I am talking about a famous Chinese monk named Xuan-zang (玄奘, 602 – 664).1 Recently, I found an old, but fascinating book on my shelf I had forgotten about, titledContinue reading “The Amazing Adventures of Xuanzang”

Awesome Historical Totebag

Speaking of the famous “nun warlord” Hojo no Masako, I wanted to share something really great that I picked up in Japan in Kamakura (still uploading pics from that trip, blog post coming later): This totebag features the famous speech by Hojo no Masako shortly before the Jokyu War of 1221, when the retainers ofContinue reading “Awesome Historical Totebag”

The Man Who Held It All Together: Hojo no Yoshitoki

I’ve talked about several aspects (and people) of a fascinating by tumultuous period of Japanese history from the late 12th to the early 13th centuries. The climatic battle between the Genji (Minamoto) and Heike (Taira) clans led to the establishment of Japan’s first military government (a Shogunate) away from the aristocratic Imperial court. This newContinue reading “The Man Who Held It All Together: Hojo no Yoshitoki”

Lonely At The Top: Minamoto no Sanetomo

I’m still keeping up with the Japanese historical drama the Thirteen Lords of Kamakura, discussed here, which is based primarily on the Azuma Kagami (吾妻鏡) a historical text about the period, and a fascinating look at how the Shogunate, or samurai military government, of the Kamakura Period rose and fell. The rise of the KamakuraContinue reading “Lonely At The Top: Minamoto no Sanetomo”

Amitabha Buddha and Gandhara

Recently, while bumbling around Wikipedia (as one does), I came upon this random by very fascinating example of Buddhist art from the Gandhara region. This is a depiction of Amitabha Buddha preaching upon a lotus throne in the Pure Land (Sukhāvatī in Sanskrit). This picture dates from the Kushan Empire, which inherited the earlier Greco-BactrianContinue reading “Amitabha Buddha and Gandhara”

The Original Poet-Monk: Saigyo Hoshi

Long before people like Basho or Yosa Buson, in Japan there lived a man named Saigyō Hōshi (西行法師, 1118 – 1190), who lived a privileged life in the Heian period Court, but then threw it aside to become a prolific poet while living an ascetic life as a Buddhist monk. Japanese Romanization Translation しほりせで ShioriContinue reading “The Original Poet-Monk: Saigyo Hoshi”

Buddhism and Printing

A Buddhist monk named Tetsugen Dōkō (鉄眼道光, 1630-1682) was a prominent teacher and lecturer of the Obaku Zen sect. I’ve written a few recent posts about him. However, his greatest accomplishment was perhaps providing a complete, printed collection of the entire Buddhist canon in Japan called the Obaku Edition of the Triptaka: Ōbakuban daizōkyō (黄檗版大蔵経).Continue reading “Buddhism and Printing”

Hojo Masako: the “Nun Warlord”

As I continue watching a Japanese historical drama, the Thirteen Lords of Kamakura, I have been delving more into the history of the Kamakura Period (12th – 14th century) of Japan, under the new military government. I know this era a lot less than I do the Heian Period, but while it is different, itContinue reading “Hojo Masako: the “Nun Warlord””