Clement asked if he could use some of the pictures for the film and also if I had any pictures of Zenko-ji temple in Nagano where Shinran also lived for a while. Of course, I said yes he could, and yes, I did have pictures of Zenko-ji which I took when K and I visited that temple in 2003. But as the pictures of Sainen-ji and Daikaku-ji were taken in winter and with my old camera to boot, I offered to retake them in the beautiful month of May with my newer Canon camera. So, K drove us up there again and I photographed the temples with more greenery.
Click picture to see the larger image. Zoom in and note the person walking along the paddy, a small truck and the wind turbine on the mountain.
Some of my pictures were utilized in the documentary which has been translated into other languages for Jodo Shinshu audiences in Australia and other countries in southeast Asia.
Then, last November, I was contacted by the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in Massachusetts and was asked if they could use some of my pictures from Sainenji in an article for their magazine 'Insight Journal'. Again, I agreed, but offered the more recent pictures which I had taken for the film. They then told me that the article was being written by Dr. Taitetsu Unno and his son Mark Unno. Now, that really got my attention!
I have heard Dr. Unno speak a few times in Hawaii, asked him (ignorant) questions over lunch, and also attended a seminar on the island of Lanai in October of 1987 (pilot's logs are good for looking up dates) for which he was the featured speaker. I even have some of his books.
Dr. Unno is the Jill Ker Conway Professor Emeritus of Religion at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. A priest ordained in the Shin Buddhist tradition, he is the author of Shin Buddhism: Bits of Rubble Turn into Gold, Tannisho: A Shin Buddhist Classic, and River of Fire, River of Water. He is considered by many to be the foremost authority in America on the subject of Japanese Pure Land Buddhism.
Mark Unno is currently Associate Professor of East Asian Religions at the University of Oregon. He specializes in medieval Japanese Buddhist thought and the philosophy of religion. He is the author of Shingon Refractions: Myoe and the Mantra of Light, and the editor of Buddhism and Psychotherapy Across Cultures. He is also an ordained priest in the Shin Buddhist tradition.
(above mentioned books available from Amazon and other booksellers)
Dr. Taitetsu "Tai" Unno on Lanai, October 1987.
I am very privileged to have my pictures used in an article by these two. How wonderful that an inquiry from someone in Massachusetts to me in Japan should turn out to involve an article being written by someone I knew when I lived in Hawaii. Small world department. Anyway, if you are interested, you can read the article (and see my three photos) by downloading it as a PDF file from Insight Journal, Volume 31: Winter 2009 from the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies. The article is titled "Shin Buddhism".
But this story doesn't end there. One of the pictures (Lotus pond at Zenko-ji Temple) that I sent in for the documentary about Shinran Shonin, is now on the cover of a new book - Liturgy for Birth, Ojoraisan - Compiled by Monk Shan-tao (613–81) and translated from Chinese to English by Zuio Hisao Inagaki, an eminent reverend and professor with the Horai Association at Ryukoku University in Kyoto. The Horai Association was founded by his father to spread Shin Buddhist teachings in Australia. The book is available by mail from Singapore by contacting stanton_tan (at) hotmail.com .
Are my pictures worthy of such heady company? Not really. I think it is more a matter of the fact that there are not so many people who take pictures of Sainen-ji, Daikaku-ji or Zenko-ji and post them on the internet, especially in an English language blog. Regardless, I am very happy that they have attracted some attention and found a greater purpose, and that I was able to contribute in some small way to help spread the Buddha Dharma.
"The more ice is bathed in the light of compassion,
the more it becomes the flowing water of reality."
~ Shinran Shonin
Namu Amida Butsu.