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Studying Zen Buddhism at a Monastery in Japan

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#1 Flo

Posted 17 October 2011 - 02:04 AM

I was wondering if there were any Buddhist Monasteries in Japan that offered room and board for people looking to stay and learn about Zen Buddhism. Something along the lines of 10 day courses, etc. If so, is there anything like that for English speakers? I feel like it's wishful thinking, but it would be awesome if something like that existed. Thanks.

Edited by Flo, 17 October 2011 - 02:05 AM.

#2 Uncle Gweilo

Posted 17 October 2011 - 09:57 AM

Certainly would be, but I think you'd have to learn Japanese first. I've just run a very rudimentary search for "studying buddhism in japan" and came up with the following:

http://www.zenki.com...rningZeninJapan  information here is over a decade old, but indicates you'll need to be pretty conversant with Japanese before you start.

http://global.sotoze...gner/index.html  is a list of temples for forigners in Japan. Whether or not this means instruction or just an English-speaking guide to a tourist attraction is not made clear.

Even results on the first page of my Google search weren't really related to the topic.

#3 Flo

Posted 17 October 2011 - 04:55 PM

Thanks. I did a search too and didn't come up with anything too useful. That's why I decided post the question here in case someone had any experience with this sort of thing. Thanks for the help though.

#4 Starseeker

Posted 17 October 2011 - 08:49 PM


Zen or Chan' Buddhism was technically originated in China.  The legend of its origins are so famous that even a casual observer of Chan' Buddhism like me knows some of it off heart.

If you are just looking for some kind of "experience", I am sure there are plenty of self discovery courses or camps that focus on meditation and zen in the US.  Japanese are excellent at systematically organizing and exporting their culture.  I am sure you can find a course that is suitable for you stateside if you look for US organizations that promotes Zen and the like.



Beginning with Soyen Shaku's invitation to San Francisco and the ministries of Nyogen Senzaki and Sokei-an, Zen Buddhism was the first import Buddhist trend to put down roots in North America. In the late 1940s and 1950s, writers associated with the Beat Movement, including Gary Snyder, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Philip Whalen, and Kenneth Rexroth took a serious interest in Zen, which increased its visibility. In 1951, Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki returned to the United States to take a visiting professorship at Columbia University, where his open lectures attracted many members of the literary, artistic, and cultural elite.
Soyu Matsuoka-roshi established the Chicago Buddhist Temple in 1949 (now the Zen Buddhist Temple of Chicago) and provided Zen training and lectures in both America and Japan. Matsuoka-roshi served as superintendent and abbot of the Long Beach Zen Buddhist Temple and Zen Center. The temple was headquarters to Zen Centers in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Everett, Washington. Matsuoka-Roshi was born in Japan into a family of Zen priests dating back six hundred years. He was sent to America to serve as a founder of temples both in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He furthered his graduate work at Columbia University with D.T. Suzuki. He established a temple at Long Beach in 1971, where he died in 1998.

If you are looking for something more akin to a religious experience, I would recommend learning Japanese or Chinese.  Chan'/Zen is culturally and linguistically centric, so it would be difficult for an non speaker who is unfamiliar with the culture or language to understand some precepts.  Most of the stuff I've read in English about the subject matter sounds a bit hippie-ish.  That doesn't mean that there aren't any good stuff out there.  It's just that I haven't come across a lot of it.

#5 Flo

Posted 18 October 2011 - 01:39 AM

Hey thanks! I've read a few books on Buddhism and Zen is the one that interests me the most. I'm pretty west weary at this point and I don't want to remain in the states. I figured going to Japan would be interesting. I found a Monastery that offers classes and on site housing in Nepal, but I'm more interested in Zen Buddhism then Tibetan Buddhism. Still, it may be worth checking it out in the states before I decide to take off. Thanks again.

#6 kamikaze

Posted 18 October 2011 - 02:43 AM

Try Shunkoin Temple (http://www.shunkoin.com/home.html) in Kyoto.

#7 Flo

Posted 18 October 2011 - 04:19 AM

This is definitely interesting. I'm going to get into contact with them to learn more. Thanks a lot!

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