People feel different things when they hear the word “Zen.” It can conjure images of rock gardens, meditating monks, or spiritual Nirvana. Zen（禅） has influenced and can be found in many of the things we find around us daily. The meaning of zen varies with different schools of practice, but a good itroduction would be, “Insight into the Nature of Existence.” The story of zen and how it continues to affect our daily lives is interesting and insightful. Take the time to learn and even try zazen while you are in Japan.
Zen Roots and Japan
Zen has it`s roots in the Buddhist religion for India by way of China. It is said to have been introduced to Japan by the monk Eisei in the late 12th century. The self-discipline and mental challenge of zen appealed to the rising warrior class. The appreciation for the aestethics, beauty, and importance of the relationship between an object and the empty space it occupies would later influence the garden design, tea cermony, ikebana, and many other Japanese cultural arts.
A bit more accessible, fun, and culturally informative is the “Samurai Meetups” Zen event in Tokyo. This popular event brings visitors and a zen master together at the Grand Hotel in Tokyo on March 11th 2017. This is a wonderful opportunity to get a basic introduction and experience to Zen.