Japan, March 2011


Japan’s been on my mind.  Your’s too?   Words fail to convey the depth of our sorrow for and horror at the loss of life, home, livelihood, basic necessities, and connectedness for countless families.  Words fail at conveying our admiration for the heroism of the workers risking their lives struggling to bring six runaway nuclear reactors under control.  Words fail to express the depth of our cynicism about the nuclear power industry’s assurances of safety.  What more is there left to express?

As Zen practitioners, we have a natural affinity for Japan as an ancestral home of our practice.  I’m not the praying type, so I haven’t offered any prayers.  But I’ve done something practical: donated to the Japanese Red Cross Society.  Google has made it easy to do at this URL:


Please do more than metta and tong-len.  Let’s put compassion into action.

I’ve never been to Japan, but I found myself free-associating this morning on the word ”Japan” and all that it signifies in my imagination.  It’s not exactly a poem, but maybe it will remind you of whatever Japan signifies for you.  Feel free to add your own associations below in comments.

Japan — Land of…

Shinto, Shingon, Jodo Shinshu, and  Zen


Hakuin, Basho, Ryokan, and Dogen


Honen, Ryonan, Shinran, Nichiren


Sega, Sony, Nintendo, and Canon


Seiko, Toshiba, Yamaha, and Nikon


Bushido, samurai, ninja, and ronan


Honda, Toyota, Mazda, and Nissan


Kagemusha, Yojimbo, Ran, and Rashomon,


Gojira, Mothra, Gamera, and Rodan


Sushi, sashimi, miso, and daikon


Kurosawa, Miyazaki, Murakami, Mishima


Pillow book, floating world, samisen, and geisha


Nanking, Guadalcanal, Burma, and  Iwo Jima


Karate, Ju-Jitsu, Sumo, and Aikido


Hirohito, Tokyo Rose, Matsui, and Tojo


Rock gardens, cherry blossoms, chrysanthemums, origami


Kobe, Sendai, earthquake and Tsunami


Hiroshima, Nagasaki — now Fukushima Daiichi