English language bus day-trip
to Mt. Minobe, Yamanashi.
November 3 (National holiday)
Ku’onji is the main temple of
the Nichiren Sect and this is a chance to learn about the history of Nichiren
(the great Buddhist reformer d.1282 ) who settled on Minobu in his last decade
after return from exile, and whose tomb is here. We will use the ropeway to the
top and also enjoy the Oku-no-in with its great views and fall foliage.
Sponsored by the
International Buddhist Congregation of Rissho Koseikai.
Subsidized cost of 3,000yen
covers bus, ropeway, lunch and entrance fees.
Meet at 8:20 (Horinkaku
parking lot) return expected by 8pm.
The speaker was our member,
Bonnie McClure, graduate student in Japanese literature now studying at Aoyama
Gakuin University. She introduced us to renga,
or linked verse, the dominant form of Japanese style (waka) poetry in the 13—16th centuries. Very much a group effort
where, at a social gathering of poets, contemporaneous short poetry was recited
and recorded in turn under strict rules of linkage covering changing themes and
vocabulary. One hundred stanzas in total were a common length. Individuality
and self-promotion were frowned upon. She quoted various aspects of the poetics
including a stress on the Buddhist understanding of “temporality” or mujō and quoted Shinkei(a famous 15c. practitioner along with his
student Sōgi) …”the poet must be practically nonexistent.” Here is a linkage of
verses (in this case all by one poet) translated by McClure.
At our September 13 meeting, our long time member Bonnie McClure will talk to us about renga poetry. Bonnie, who recently earned her Master's Degree in Japanese Literature at the University of Washington is currently furthering her work under a Ministry of Education scholarship at Aoyama Gakuin.
The dominant poetic form in Japan for some 300 years,
linked verse or renga is now a largely neglected chapter of literary history.
Composed in a group, renga was a social activity, the party game of its day. It
can be thought of as a kind of poetic jamming. Techniques used to link verses
were varied and sometimes quite complex; sequences are full of wordplay,
allusions, and surprising transitions that can be both clever and profound. One
of the representative literary forms of the medieval period, renga displays at
times the contemplative mood and Buddhist influence found in much medieval
literature. In fact, since it has a rule that no one thread or storyline can
continue throughout a sequence―instead every new link has to change things up
and move the sequence in a new direction―renga has been called an embodiment of
the Buddhist concept of impermanence.
Everyone is welcome to the meeting on the fourth floor of the International House of Japan in Roppongi from 3 -5 p.m. Sunday September 13. An early dinner or tea follows at the IHJ garden restaurant for those that would like to join. Reservations for the meeting are not required but a 1000 yen per person donation to help cover room charge would be appreciated.
On October 11, the fellowship will be celebrating 50 continuous years in Japan. The program will include a discussion of the history of the fellowship in Japan.