HomeUncategorizedIndividuals of Wazuka: Shouhouji Head Abbot Tetsudo Ozeki

Individuals of Wazuka: Shouhouji Head Abbot Tetsudo Ozeki


Shouhouji is certainly one of Wazuka’s lovely temples, identified for its pink fall leaves. Not too long ago, I had the privilege of talking with its abbot, Tetsudo Ozeki-san. I used to be in a position to study loads concerning the deep historical past between Buddhism and tea. Whereas ingesting scrumptious tea out of teaware that Ozeki-san had made himself, we had this dialogue. 

All images are courtesy of fellow intern Katrina Wild.

On the left, Shouhouji's chief abbot, and Alex on the right are deep in conversation. They sit across from each other at a dark wood table with light handmade teaware on it.

ーWhere is your hometown?

It’s Wazuka.


ーWhat do you assume is Wazuka’s attraction?

I’ve all the time lived right here, …Everybody comes to go to, so there’s a recognition that it’s a good place, however I haven’t truly lived wherever else.

The roof of Shouhouji Temple in Wazuka is visible with yellow leaves above. It is very beautiful and fall-like.

ーWhy did you grow to be a follower of Buddhism?

I used to be born out of this temple. Europe is monotheistic, however in Japan now we have yaorozu [expression for “countless”], many gods and lots of Buddhas. I grew up in the course of that, so with none specific doubts, I used to be born in a temple and remained in a temple as I turned an grownup.


Japan is a rustic of yaorozu gods, it’s fairly pure to grow to be a monk should you develop up in a temple or to grow to be a priest should you develop up in a shrine. After all, there are additionally individuals who grow to be monks or clergymen from the skin…however we’re a nation that doesn’t fixate. We’re a rustic that may settle for many gods and Buddhas. So, I didn’t must assume a lot. I used to be born and raised within the Zen sect, so I started working towards Rinzai Zen [Rinzai is one of the three largest schools of Zen in Japan]. I didn’t actually give it some thought, ?


ーTea and Buddhism’s historical past is so deep. As an individual residing in a birthplace of Japanese tea, has tea had an affect in your Buddhist follow?

Within the Rinzai sect, we start with tea and finish with tea. In Kyoto, Kenninji Temple was the place Japanese tea and sadou tea ceremony began.  The founder, Yousai [also sometimes written Eisai] introduced tea tradition from China. In that point, a follow referred to as sarei [tea drinking manners in the Zen tradition] turned the premise of sadou [Japanese tea ceremony]. We regularly provide tea to the Buddha. Each morning, with out fail, I provide tea to the Buddha.


Totally different temples have totally different relationships to tea. For instance, Daitokuji in Kyoto has a deeper historical past with matcha, so it’s related to urasenke and omotesenke [the largest schools of matcha tea ceremony in Japan]. Daitokuji even owns a youhentenmoku chawan, which is the very best high quality of a tenmoku chawan [a matcha cup glazed with a distinctive ceramic glaze].


The iemoto [heads of a Japanese traditional arts school] of senchado [sencha tea ceremony] are additionally typically from the Obaku faculty of Buddhism. Within the Edo Interval, Obaku started sencha tradition with regards to tea tradition in China. That’s why Manpukuji temple in Uji is a sencha temple.


As a result of I stay in Wazuka, I’ve all the time been brewing tea. From morning to nighttime, monks in coaching used to return right here and ask for tea.


ーWazuka’s historical past of Buddhism can also be deep, no? Does this city have any specific Buddhist traits? Is there a profit to residing right here specifically as a Buddhist?

Now we have each sect represented, hasshuu [eight sects of Buddhism introduced to Japan in the Heian and Nara periods]. If there’s a Pure Land temple, there’s additionally a Shin temple. Dainenbutsu and so forth…many various monks from totally different sects are round right here. In Wazuka alone, there are 24 temples! That’s why, there’s a kind of Buddhist improve. We name ourselves “many sects”. It’s a chance to review and mans that we are able to hear different monk’s tales, so it’s fascinating. All of us have the identical Buddhist perspective in the direction of life…however our households don’t essentially go the identical manner. There are monks that even in the present day don’t eat meat or fish…However anyway, there’s interchange between totally different sects. It’s enjoyable.


For instance, pottery isn’t typically thought-about temple work, however the tea utensils we’re utilizing proper now are all items I made right here. I can’t do it a lot anymore, however I used to have the bodily energy to make my very own pottery.

Beautiful potter that the chief abbot of Shouhouji has made himself. It is a light glaze with a crackle pattern. There's a large yuzamashi and tea pot, as well as nice yunomi to accompany. The scale is far larger than a standard kyusu.

ーThe world is rapidly altering. What sorts of modifications do you assume will come to Japanese Buddhism? What must be preserved?

The supporters of temples and shrines are all getting older! Temples and shrines have a giant downside with succession. In different phrases, I’ve two sons, however neither will grow to be a monk. They already ran away! They went to school and are having their very own careers. Indisputably, temples and shrines are going to have this sort of downside transferring ahead.


After all, Kyoto’s temples (Daitokuji, Nanzenji, Kenninji, Toufukuji, and so forth.) are head temples. Vacationers come to go to. This sort of cultural heritage can’t be misplaced. So, they are going to be succeeded. However the different temples don’t actually have a future. So, it’s changing into increasingly frequent for monks to grow to be head abbots of two or extra temples. I’m presently head abbot for 2 temples. Certainly, what comes after goes to be troublesome.


ーAs a follower of Buddhism, what do you assume is a vital level to remember?

Possibly as a result of coronavirus, however the variety of areligious folks is growing. Japanese folks took in lots of gods and Buddha’s, however we’re additionally quick to desert them!


We within the Zen sect perhaps aren’t only a faith, now we have a instructing that one ought to discover their very own Buddha. So, in Europe we frequently get referred to as a “philosophy”. In case you meet your individual Buddha, they satori [enlightenment] can start. For that goal, we sit zazen [Zen meditation]. It’s unattainable to know from the trail of simply considering along with your head. The very first thing to do is to sit down. There are teachings that can not be stated with phrases or written with letters. They’re referred to as furyuumonji. That’s nearer to philosophy than faith, isn’t it? “Please discover it your self!” we ask.


Europe loves data, doesn’t it? All kinds of learnings. The sorts of issues you may decide up by learning. Rinzai and Zen say, “Sit and catch it your self! Please follow!” There’s no reply anyway, so I’m relaxed however…Please catch it by your self.

The Shouhouji Abbot shows Alex various papers and effects relating to the temple, including photographs of the scenery at different seasons

ーThere’s this factor I hold listening to from farmers right here, “It’s advantageous to study by learning from books, however there may be knowledge that comes from experiencing nature.”

Sure, that’s shut. “At present it would rain” and such issues… since you simply know.


ーWhat is your favourite tea?

It’s bancha. It’s simple to brew in a pot and I don’t really feel responsible about my well being. However, I additionally drink black tea and sencha and even espresso. Something apart from alcohol is okay.

The chief abbot of Shouhouji drinks coffee while smiling.

ーWhat do you envision for Wazuka’s future?

I’ve excessive hopes for the tunnel. The variety of retailers has been declining lately as a result of they shut. I can’t drive anymore, however I hope that the brand new tunnel to Uji could have a very good impression on the native financial system.

Alex and Ozeki-san face away from the camera. They look off into the distance at the scenery of Shouohouji. The trees are ripe with fall colors.




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