Bodhidharma: The Original Daruma

Daruma are an interesting tradition in Japan, and their roots in Zen Buddhism are not to be overlooked. Since my original post on the Daruma Festival, I’ve been reading more and more about the doll, its tradition, symbolism, and connection to the figure Bodhidharma and decided that another post to sort out my thoughts was […]

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Zenkoji Temple

Zenkoji is the most famous temple in Nagano City. It has beautiful grounds and a lot going for it, but for this post, I want to try something different. I want to focus on the O-Asaji morning ceremony and my experience with it. This will be a long read (clocking in at just over 1500 […]

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Kita-in Temple

Just uptown a little ways from the train station in Kawagoe is a collection of temples and shrines. At one point, it even hosted a castle from the imperial capital. I went one day to check out the grounds and learn a little more about this location, as well as gaze upon the sites most […]

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Kencho-ji Temple

During my first month in Japan, a colleague of mine offered to take us to Kamakura, the Kyoto of the East. Kamakura is littered with all sorts of historical and cultural goodies, the most famous of which is the giant Buddha. While visiting, I did not see the big man himself, but did manage to […]

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New Year’s Blessing

A tradition that exists in Mongolia, after the new year season, is to invite a monk over to one’s home or place of employment to have them perform a blessing for the new year. Last year, I did not see any such event at my usual haunts in Erdenet. This year, however, while visiting Khentii […]

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Offering Condolences

Death. It’s a topic that makes most cultures squirm a bit, and I’ve seen more than my fair share of Mongolians aptly avoid the subject. Some believe that speaking about it invites it into your life. I’ve recently had two of my teachers experience such a terrible loss. I was at a loss for what […]

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The Temple With The Difficult Name

Amarbayasgalant is its name. I visited there one rainy summer day with the other trainees at my site, as well as our language teachers. The name of the temple always eluded me, and I referred to it as “The temple that starts with an A,” eventually progressing to “Amar-something.” The temple gets its name, I […]

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