The 25th International Seminar of Budō Culture

IMG_0042From March 8th to 11th I was in Katsuura, Chiba, at the Nippon Budōkan’s research and training facilities there, for the 25th International Seminar of Budō Culture: four days of lectures, symposia, and technical training sponsored by the Budōkan and the Monbukagakushō (文部科学省), or “MEXT”– the incredibly broad-ranging Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology. Every year these institutions organize this event and invite foreign practitioners of the traditional Japanese martial arts, as well as Japanese masters and other instructors. The speakers and guest instructors are of the highest caliber.

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A trip to the Eisei Bunko archives

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 12.23.20 PMThe Eisei Bunko (永青文庫) archives, in Meijiro-dai, are housed in a large, blockish building with grating on the windows, of a type that can often be seen in private libraries on the estates of former samurai lords, of which it is in fact one. The grounds belonged to the powerful Hosokawa (細川) family for generations. The Hosokawa clan are of particular interest to me, as it was in their hospitality that Miyamoto Musashi spent a large part of his latter years in Kumamoto, Kyūshū. The daimyō Hosokawa Tadatoshi was a particularly close friend; the two practiced various arts together, and Musashi instructed him in swordsmanship, writing for him the Thirty-five Articles on Strategy (兵法三十五箇条). As a major clan, the Hosokawa also maintained an estate in Edo (江戸, now Tokyo), now converted into this archive and museum, and the grounds into the pleasant New Edogawa Park, which slopes down a hill away from the archives and around a pond.

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Are you meditating yet? Harnessing the power of a “mind like a mirror”

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Do you practice meditation on any regular basis?  The warriors of Japan had come to appreciate the benefits of meditation to their extremely rigorous way of life by the Kamakura Era; this was one of the reasons Zen Buddhism made such huge inroads in Japan at the time. And even if you are not going to be going out on the literal field of battle any time soon, if you’re not meditating on a regular basis, I’d suggest you are missing out.

I’ve been a  fairly regular meditator for a long time now, but recently I have upped my practice: to twice a day, for at least 15 minutes each time (and longer whenever possible — I find that at this point it still usually takes me around 20 minutes to get into a really “deep” state). I can say without a doubt that there have been very positive results. Especially, my creativity and problem-solving powers have clearly increased.  I’ve begun suddenly seeing solutions to problems that had been bothering me for a long time, and also seeing solutions to problems I hadn’t even realized were problems at all!

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