Located on the East Coast of Oita Prefecture on Japan’s Kyushu Island, Usuki is a city with a rich history of […]
Zen meditation experience plan enveloped in 1,300 years of history
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1,300 years ago, the unique religious mountain culture of Rokugo Manzan prospered throughout the Kunisaki Peninsula in northern Oita Prefecture with the Futagoji Temple at its core. Futagoji Temple is the primary temple of this culture and the center for spiritual mountain training.
Now you can experience for yourself the zen meditation at Futagoji Temple. The purpose of Zen meditation is to “stabilize your body, breathing, and heart.”
Zen meditation is a spiritual training that rids the mind of needless thoughts and teaches you to be honest with yourself. It is also recommended for athletes and business people.
Anyone who is tired of the hustle and bustle of the city or who want to relieve their minds of the stresses of work are welcome to join.
It is said that the statues of Nio at the gate are about 200 years old. Originally, statues of Nio were the guardian deities of shrines and temples. The mouth of the right Nio is opened in an “A” shape and the left closed in an “Um” shape, which in the English alphabet is the same as “A-Z,” meaning the temple will be protected from beginning to end.
Sit on a cushion folded in half and cross your legs with the left foot on top of the right. Place your hands just under your belly button with the left hand facing down and the right facing up and fold your fingertips together. Look 1.5m to 2m across the tatami mat in front of you with your eyelids half open. This is done to prevent the needless thoughts from re-entering your consciousness as they would if you closed your eyes.
Breathe out through your mouth and in through your nose, being sure to breathe from your diaphragm. Count your breathing until you reach 10 and then return to 1 and count again. When the monk stands in front of you with his zenjo (staff), place your hands together and bow. As you grab both elbows, bring your arms in front of your chest and bend forward with your upper body so the monk can strike you with his zenjo.
After the meditation you can take a walk around the precincts. Try going up the stone steps to see the “Okunoin” (inner sanctuary). The Okunoin was built roughly 170 years ago using donations from the governors of the land and stands atop magnificent cliffs. This Buddhist stature is known as the “Eleven-faced Senju Kannon.” You can also go to the cave behind the main hall.
Zen meditation is a time to rid yourself of your needless and doubtful thoughts and just have a quiet conversation with yourself. Though being struck with the zenjo does cause pain, it is not a “form of punishment.” In Japanese, the characters for “zenjo” are written “The cane of Zen”, which implies it is meant to be used to assist with continued training.
The best part about zen meditation on the Kunisaki Peninsula is that it cannot be experienced in cities like Kyoto, but rather in a place of seclusion, completely surrounded by nature.
It is worth it to see not only the mossy Nio statues and stone steps, but also the beautiful wooden structures of the inner sanctuary. Why not take some time away from the surroundings of everyday life and experience a Japanese culture that has lasted more than 1000 years.
This experience plan will be available in spring 2019. Please look forward to it!
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