Discipline, Compassion, and Enlightenment at a Japanese Zen Temple
An intimate and insightful look into the life of a head Soto Zen temple in 21st century Japan
Daihonzan Sōjiji is one of two head temples of the Sōtō Zen sect of Japanese Buddhism. Originally founded in 740 CE, Sōjiji has been a major force in the development and growth of Zen throughout Japanese history. Its current home overlooks Tokyo Bay and the Tokyo-Yokohama Industrial Corridor, as well as the dramatic shifts in Japanese society and the role of religion within it. In the proposed manuscript, Joshua Irizarry details his two year ethnographic study, living within the temple, and explores how this ancient institution is responding to the aging population, declining birthrate, mass unemployment, and the uncertainty of family and memory. Perhaps most significantly, the after-effects of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami (3/11), including ongoing fears over environmental contamination are forcing religious institutions in Japan to dramatically renegotiate their relationship with Japanese society and government at large—and to see whether or not Sōjiji’s ascetic traditions can be modernized and globalized.
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