Buddhism and the Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

Like so many others, I am enjoying The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, but I am not just enjoying the game-play, I am subtly enjoying how certain Japanese cultural concepts shine through even in a medieval fantasy adventure. In a previous post, I talked about Japanese-religious influences in Breath of the Wild, andContinue reading “Buddhism and the Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom”

Jodo Shu: Three Minds and Four Modes of Practice

The 7th century Chinese Buddhist monk Shandao (pinyin: Shàndǎo, 善導, 613-681) is probably the single most influential monk in the entire Pure Land Buddhist tradition. Both Japanese and Chinese traditions claim him as a patriarch of their respective lineages. Shandao taught an interpretation of the Pure Land that was much less ambiguous and more accessibleContinue reading “Jodo Shu: Three Minds and Four Modes of Practice”

Pure Land Buddhism at Large

Recently, I took some personal time to delve deep into Pure Land Buddhist teachings, re-reading some old books, but also some new ones. In particular, I was very impressed by Charles B Jones’s latest book, an excellent survey of the entire Pure Land tradition in Mahayana Buddhism. If you’re not familiar with Pure Land Buddhism,Continue reading “Pure Land Buddhism at Large”

Hosso Yogacara Buddhism and the Five Natures Doctrine

Throughout the history of the Hossō Buddhist sect in Japan, descended from the Yogacara school of thought from India, no one doctrine has caused more controversy or sparked debate with other schools than the Five-Natures Doctrine, or goshō kakubetsu (五姓各別). I don’t necessarily endorse nor criticize this doctrine myself, but I am a big believerContinue reading “Hosso Yogacara Buddhism and the Five Natures Doctrine”

Torii Gates in Japan

While making some maps on Inkarnate for a new Japanese-themed Ravenloft-domain I published on DMS Guild, I was reminded how these kind of Japanese gates often show up in unusual places in Western media, including fantasy media: But these gates aren’t just for decoration, they’re an important part of Japanese Shinto religion, called a toriiContinue reading “Torii Gates in Japan”

May Illness

In Japanese culture there is a phrase, gogatsu-byō (5月病), which means “May Illness”. It’s a tongue-in-cheek saying that describes the feeling of haziness or lethargy that many people experience in late April/early May. In Japan’s case, this is keenly felt by students whose school year ends in April (not June),1 and new office workers whoContinue reading “May Illness”

Golden Week in Japan

We all need a break sometimes. My coworkers in the EU often take time off in August, while I usually take part of the summer of with the family to see relatives in Japan. My company is a Japanese company so per tradition we also get the last week of the year off, ostensibly forContinue reading “Golden Week in Japan”

Happy Birthday, Honen!

Today, April 7th in the Japanese-Buddhist calendar, is a holiday called Shūso Gōtan-e (宗祖降誕会) which celebrates the birthday of a monk named Honen (法然, April 7, 1133 – February 29, 1212). Ostensibly, Honen was a monk of the Tendai sect in Japan, but went on to be a founder of the Jodo-Shu or “Pure Land”Continue reading “Happy Birthday, Honen!”

Yoshino Cherry Blossoms

The village of Yoshino in Japan, near the old capitol of Nara, is probably ground-zero of the Cherry Blossom tradition. Since antiquity, people have sung the praises of the trees there. These days you can enjoy online! As of writing, the Yoshino news Twitter feed reports full bloom (mankai 満開)! Enjoy! P.S. Not to beContinue reading “Yoshino Cherry Blossoms”