鯉のぼり Koinobori

Koinobori meaning “carp streamer” in Japanese, are carp-shaped windsocks traditionally flown in Japan to celebrate Tango no sekku (端午の節句), a traditional calendrical event which is now designated a national holiday; Children’s Day (Kodomo no Hi, 子供の日).These wind socks are made by drawing carp patterns on paper, cloth or other non woven fabric. They are then allowed…

Kazanji no tsuki

Kazan was 17 when he became emperor in 985 AD. Only two years later the powerful Fujiwara family tricked him into taking priestly vows, due to which he was forced to abdicate. Here the young Emperor and his companion flee one moonlit night to the Tokozan Bodaiji Temple that later received Kazan’s name. (

The Living Buddha & the Tubmaker

Zen masters give personal guidance in a secluded room. No one enters while teacher and pupil are together. Mokurai, the Zen master of Kennin temple in Kyoto, used ot enjoy talking with merchants and newspapermen as well as with his pupils. A certain tubmaker was almost illiterate. He would ask foolish questions of Mokurai, have…

Horinji no tsuki

The weeping woman is Yokobue, a lady-in-waiting to the Empress Kenreimonin (1155-1213). She fell in love with palace guard Tokiyori who, when his father disapproved, took religious orders. She followed him to the Horin temple in Saga near Kyoto to ask him to return, but he refused to see her.

The Last Rap

Tangen had studied with Sengai since childhood. When he was twenty he wanted to leave his teacher and visit others for comparitive study, but Sengai would not permit this. Every time Tangen suggested it, Sengai would give him a rap on the head. Finally Tangen asked an elder brother to coax permission from Sengai. This…

A country couple enjoys the moonlight with their infant son

A peasant family – the woman breastfeeding her baby, the man enjoying his banshaku or evening drink – relaxing at the end of the day. The poem may have been written by Keika, Yoshitoshi’s friend and calligrapher: “Pleasure is this – to lie under the moonflower bower – the man in his shirt, the woman…

The Real Miracle

When Bankei was preaching at Ryumon temple, a Shinshu priest, who believed in salvation through the repitition of the name of the Buddha of Love, was jealous of his large audience and wanted to debate with him. Bankei was in the midst of a talk when the priest appeared, but the fellow made such a…