■ 1. History of Zen in Japan
Zen is a school of Buddhism. It was founded by the Indian priest Dharma in the early 6th century. It focuses on meditation in a seated position. Since its arrival in Japan in the 13th century, Zen has developed itself and exerted a great influence on Japanese culture and thought including tea ceremony, flower arrangement, and Bushido or the way of samurai.
■ 2. Zen meditation experience at the Korin-in temple
If you want to experience zen meditation in Tokyo, the Korin-in temple is ideal.
The Korin-in temple is located in Hiroo, Shibuyaku, Tokyo and it is close to the Hiroo station of Hibiya line. Although it is located in Tokyo, the neighborhood is quiet.
・Zen practice starts at 7 am on weekdays, and 5 pm on Sunday.
・Admission is free.
■ 2.1 Access
The Korin-in temple is about 3 minutes from No.2 exit of the Hiroo station of Hibiya line.
■ 2.2 Gate and entrance
The wooden gate of the Korin-in temple looks old. The entrance of the zen room was renewed recently.
■ 3 Zen etiquette
Arrive in loose-fitting clothing and remove socks, watch, and any accessories before taking a seat. The hall in which you practice zazen is a sacred place. Refrain from talking, and remember to press the palms together and bow at the start and end of a session.
There's no guidance or direction. People just come, do Zazen training, and go.
■4 The way of Zen (Sitting meditation)
The zen meditation consists of two sittings of 25 minutes each with a 5 minutes break.
Use two cushions called "Zabuton". Fold the upper cushion and sit on it.
Put your foot on your thigh if possible.
Both feet is ideal but not necessary, just do what you can.
Sit straight with your pelvis pushed forward.
Imagine you are putting your weight on your knees.
Your upper body should lean forward slightly.
Keep your eyes open and unfocused, looking at a spot about 1m in front of you.
Breathe through your nose slowly and deeply.
Hold your hands slightly below your naval and focus your attention there.
Count your out breaths from one to ten.
Start over when you notice you are thinking of other things.
Put your hands together at the start of a session and at the end of a session.
During the second sitting, sometimes (not always) the master monk walks around with a stick.
If you want to get hit, put your hands together as he passes in front of you.
Bow to each other then lower your head placing your hands on the floor.
After each shoulder has been hit twice bow to each other again.
(Source: The Korin-in temple)
Let's enjoy zen to refresh.