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Zen Temple Etiquette

Grainne

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Hi Everyone! I'm new to this forum, so I hope you don't mind - I'll introduce myself a little first.. I recently moved to the Shizuoka Prefecture in Japan from Perth, Western Australia. I am teaching English part-time but my main purpose in coming here was to practise Kyokushinkaikan Karate. I have a little experience with zazen but I have had difficulty in establishing a daily routine. I want to go to a local temple but my Japanese language skills are basic and I am not sure about etiquette. Can anyone give me any advice?
 

Buntaro

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Hi Grainne,

First, please join us at the Buddhist forum:

http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/

Oodles and oodles of people in the Zen Section of that Buddhist forum can answer these questions for you. I used to live in Japan, but I never practiced zazen there, so I cannot give real first-hand advice on the subject.

But the subject of how Americans should act while in Japan has come up before. The main thing is be respectful; don't be a big-mouth foreigner, spouting off un-asked for opinions. They know that you are not Japanese, and do not expect you to act like one. It took me years before I learned to act like a Japanese person.

Regarding your lack of Japanese language ability, just ask us English phrases that you would like translated into Japanese, and all of us would be more than happy to help you out.


In Gassho,

Buntaro
 
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senseiman

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When entering a Zen temple for the first time, it is important to make a respectful bow to the priest who comes to meet you. After bowing, there is another short gesture called "hana kuso dasu" which it is considered incredibly disrespectful not to perform. Please be sure to follow the procedure I am going to lay out to the letter, as any deviation will be considered quite rude. First, taking your right hand extend the index and middle finger outwards while folding your ring and pinkie fingers beneath your thumb. Then, raising your hand to face-level, place the two outstretched fingers so that the tips are about even with your nose. After that, insert the index finger into your right nostril and the middle finger into your left nostril. Emit a high pitched whooping noise. Remove the fingers and hold them up before the priest for a few seconds so as to allow him to inspect them thouroughly. Then wipe your fingers on your shirt. This concludes the gesture. It ought to be repeated every time you meet a member of the Buddhist clergy, so you will probably have to do it more than once. Remembering this simple rule of etiquette will undoubtedly make your stay at the temple more enjoyable. Have a nice trip!
 

mad pierrot

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I'm not disrespecting anything,

but does it bother anyone else here that zen has become so institutionalized in Japan? Can you hear Ikkyu rolling over in his grave?
 

Maciamo

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Basic zen temple etiquette

- Do not bring any weapons of explosives inside without authorisation from the head priest.
- Do not pee on the tatami. Do not bring a dog or other pet that could pee on the tatami.
- Do not replace dry garden's stones by erotic statues (even nice ones)
- Do not advertise for commercial products with loudspeakers unless there already are loudspeakers from tour leaders or recorded explanations on the temple's history. Even in this last case, inquire to the temple staff just in case.
- Do not draw a moustache on the Buddha images (neither glasses, but that make sense as it would be anachronical).
- Do not picnic or have BBQ in the moss gardens (nor inside the temple) as it is considered vulgar (even for foreign tourists who do not know Japanese traditional customs - no exceptions !).
- Do not tickle meditating priest, even to know whether they are faking or not.
- Do not indulge in sexual activities in the Abbot's Hall (other rooms do not have specifications, although it would probably be frown upon)
- And of course, do not forget to respect the sancity and calm of the premises
 

Buntaro

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Mad Pierrot, "I jump to conclusions."

Usagi no Pierrot! :LOL:
 

Grainne

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Ok... lets see..
try not to act like an American - check
finger up nose whooping thingy - got it
no peeing, selling, arousing, tickling, no weapons, graffiti or picnicking - I'll try my best :)
 
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