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Sogenji Temple

Zen school and working monastery

17 November 2011
Sogenji Temple, Okayama City
Sogenji Temple, Okayama City

Sogenji Temple is not only a school but a working monastery that welcomes men and women from all over the world who are interested in the Zen sect of Japanese Buddhism.

I used to ride the Saidaiji bus past the temple every day for years but one day when I got off from my job as an English teacher at a nearby elementary school my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to walk from the main road, route 28, and take a look. I was amazed by the fact that in just 50 meters I seemed to have left the material world as I approached the entrance to Sogenji. I walked in and looked around. It was certainly beautifully landscaped with pine trees and sculptured paths.

I soon found myself in the center of the complex without having seen a single person. I walked towards a promising building and saw that there was someone inside. I gestured but the figure seemed unaware of me. Then I realized that the person I was looking at was deep in meditation and might have been the abbot for all I knew. I quickly retreated.

Suddenly I heard a bell and a dozen acolytes ran hurriedly past me in an effort to keep to their schedule. At this point I felt as if I were intruding on something intended only for the initiated. Then as I took one more look around in hopes of talking to someone, a tall European man wearing a hakama (traditional clothing) appeared and started a conversation with me. I asked what was going on there and he told me that the temple catered to foreigners who were interested in joining a monastery but was open to anyone so long as they were willing to leave the outside world behind. He told me that if I wasn't able to do that there was a Zazen-kai (meditation meeting) every Sunday at 8:00 a.m. that was open to the public. I thanked him for his time and went on my way, only to find myself at a Zazen-kai a few months later.

Where to go next
Handayama Botanical Garden
Where to eat
Pizzeria Appetito
Kenji Chida
Written by Kenji Chida
Regional Partner, Tottori, Shimane, Okayama, Kagawa
I was born and raised in Baltimore City, Maryland in the USA after which I moved to New York City at the age of 21. I lived, studied and worked in New York for five years then moved to Okayama in 1998...
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simura
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2 years ago
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I'm hoping to try Zen to brace myself.
I would like to go this place before try Zen and feel the atmosphere.
ooyama
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2 years ago
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If you want to go into training for "Zen syu" in Japanese Buddism, Sogenji Temple is special. Because this temple welcome a new disciplinant from the world. so Whoever goes into training for "Zen syu". You want to know mystic of Japan, mysterious dogma of "Zen syu", and more, you should go to Sogenji Temple.
kazupon
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2 years ago
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It is not known by Japanese people that Japan has meditation in ZAZEN for many years that it is unekpected.
Therefore,this story was a very worthy thing.
I am glad to find the world of meditation in ZAZEN which was not known.
chinatsu
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2 years ago
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I hate to say it,I hate "Zazen". because,to add to my foot was paralysed. I am under great tension to atomosphere. "Zazen" is very strict. We can concentration,but sometimes a priest will get angry at us. I have experienced"Zazen" when Iwas 5 years. It is bitter experiences. But, sightseer enjoy at "Zazen" at Sogenji temple.
tubo
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2 years ago
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I practice tea ceremony. Zen and tea ceremony,these areclosely related.
when I have deeper knowledge of tea ceremony, I cannot avoid thought of zen.
I try togo to sogenji temple, feel zen myself
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