“Shojin ryori”: Appreciating what you eat
We had our dinner in the temple’s cafeteria.
Our meal was “shojin ryori,” a vegetarian (often vegan) meal traditionally eaten by Buddhist monks.
The monks chanted prayers and taught us what to keep in mind while eating. We were told to eat in silence — so that we pay attention to and enjoy every single bite, and appreciate what we’re eating.
No meat or fish is used, and every dish is simply seasoned. Yet, the meal was delicious and filling, leaving my body and soul satisfied.
Calling it a day with taiko practice and talks over tea
After dinner, we went back to the dojo to practice “uchiwa daiko,” a type of Japanese drum that’s thin like a uchiwa (fan).
Why practice taiko? Because early next morning, we were to take part in a special activity at Asahi-Ga-Mori (which translates to “Sunrise Woods”) while admiring a sunrise.
What was difficult about this practice was that we were to hit the taiko while walking and chanting “Nam-myoho-renge-kyo” — the central mantra of Nichiren Buddhism — all at the same time. You don’t do this kind of multi-task exercise in daily life, so it was a good jolt to the brain.
We then participated in “Shodaigyo” — the primary practice of Nichiren Buddhism. The dojo was made dark with only the altar lights left on. We first calmed our minds through meditation. Then, we chanted Odaimoku, or Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, along the sound of taiko drums.
To wrap up the day, we enjoyed a short tea time with monks at the cafeteria. We asked various questions about Buddhism (very basic ones too!) and the activities we participated in today, as well as what the monks regularly do — both in and out of the temple.
It was a nice, relaxing half an hour chat before taking a bath and heading to bed — at around 11 p.m., much earlier than usual, to prepare for an early start the next day.
|Address||322-1 Kiyosumi, Kamogawa, Chiba Prefecture|