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”

The Great Buddha of Kamakura

Still catching up on blog posts from our latest trip to Japan, but today I wanted to share some photos from the Great Buddha of Kamakura, or in Japanese Kamakura no Daibutsu (鎌倉の大仏).1 The Great Buddha is one of two major attractions in the old city of Kamakura, the other being the grand shrine ofContinue reading “The Great Buddha of Kamakura”

Asakusa Temple Over The Years

There’s a good chance that if you ever visited Tokyo, you’ve been to this place: This place is Asakusa Temple, or in Japanese Asakusa-dera, though more formally known as Sensōji. The Chinese characters 浅草寺 can be read either way. This is a temple formerly of the Tendai sect that has been a part of TokyoContinue reading “Asakusa Temple Over The Years”

New Pilgrimage Books

Hello readers, A while back, I talked about something in Japanese culture called a goshuinchō (ご朱印帳), or pilgrimage book. This is a tradition that started in the late-medieval Edo period, when life in Japan finally stabilized and people could afford to travel the countryside on Buddhist pilgrimages, or just sight-seeing. People would get a “seal”Continue reading “New Pilgrimage Books”

Getting Around Japan: Suica Cards

Visiting Japan means using trains, and if you are visiting Japan or living there, it really really helps to get a train pass. If you are traveling across many prefectures or the countryside, then it makes sense to get a JR train pass, however, if you are staying within the inner-city Tokyo area, then youContinue reading “Getting Around Japan: Suica Cards”

One Hundred Temple Pilgrimage

In 2003, a video series was published in Japan called 百寺巡礼 (hyaku ji junrei), or “One Hundred Temple Pilgrimage”. The official website is here. It was a 25-series DVD set featuring the famous author Itsuki Hiroyuki, touring famous Buddhist temples in Japan, 20 minutes each, 4 per DVD (100 total). Itsuki Hiroyuki, a Jodo ShinshuContinue reading “One Hundred Temple Pilgrimage”

Martian Zen Gardens

A little while ago, the NASA Perseverance Rover no Mars posted a nice Twitter photo: Zen gardens, or karesansui (枯山水) meaning “dry mountain and water” or “dry landscape”, have been a part of Japanese aesthetics since at least the 10th century, when it was borrowed from Song-Dynasty Chinese garden trends. Contrary to popular belief theyContinue reading “Martian Zen Gardens”