As we’re rushing around this busy city of more than 13 million people, it can be hard to remember that Japanese culture is heavily influenced by Buddhism, a belief system often associated with serene temples and silent meditation. Helping people to recognize the links between today’s Japan, and 1500 years of religion and philosophy, is one of the purposes behind a series of talks at Tera Cafe.

The first of these lectures will be held on October 18. Titled “The ABCs of General Buddhism,” the lecture will investigate many of the ways that Buddhist thought influences Japanese society, even to this day. It also introduces many of the basic concepts of Buddhism, such as the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path. Doors will open at 14:30 on Saturday afternoon, and the lesson runs from 15:00 to 15:50. The lesson will be followed by an informal discussion and party, which will run from 16:00 to 17:00.

Since its development in India in 6th century BC, Buddhism has spread to nations and cultures as geographically and culturally separated as Afghanistan and Sri Lanka. Everywhere it has gone, it has adapted itself to local traditions, and the case of Japan is no different. The second lecture in the series, “An Introduction to Japanese-infused Buddhism,” explores how Buddhism’s interaction with Shinto and other Japanese native traditions led to the unique mix of beliefs and practices that define Buddhism in Japan. This talk will be held on November 15.

Interior at the Tera Cafe

Interior at the Tera Cafe

One of the unique forms of Buddhism that has developed in Japan is Shin Buddhism, known in Japanese as Jodo Shinshu. It is one of the most widely practiced varieties of Buddhism in the country, but it not nearly as well known outside of Japan—silent Zen meditation is probably what most Westerners imagine when they think of Buddhism in Japan. This religious tradition developed some 800 years ago, growing out of a desire for Buddhist teachings that were not just directed at society’s elite. The final course in the lecture series, which takes place on December 20, will give participants a glimpse into the teachings of Shin Buddhism and how they can be put into practice in a busy 21st century life.

The lecture series will be delivered in English, and a detailed schedule for the second and third classes will come. A fee of ¥2,000 covers classes, a Handbook of Buddhism, and a drink after the class. Advance registration is required; send your RSVP to [email protected].

1-33-15-13F Ebisunishi Shibuya-ku
Tokyo (see map below)
Tel.: 03-6455-3276