October 15, 2016

Morning ZAZEN
which purifying mind and health


People come to Hiroo in the morning one after another.

It is around 6:30am on the morning of a weekday. There is a temple where people through the gate continuously. It is a temple named ‘Korin-in’ of Hiroo. The morning Zazen, which is a meditation in Zen Buddhism, is held from every weekday morning at 7:00am in the temple, which belongs to the Rinzai sect Norihiro temple group located near the Hiroo shopping street.
When you take off shoes and go into the main hall, you can see a Japanese style drawing room at the end of the passage. Before going into the room, people join their hands in prayer and bow. These sacred minds can fill out the room with good moods. About 40 floor cushions are placed as U-shaped in the room and people can sit any one of these from whose coming earliest. There is a wide range of people from young couples with a casual wear and businesspersons before going to their office to older people.




Sitting massively like Mt. Fuji

For those who have no experience of Zazen, we will tell you how to do it. Fold only the upper cushion from two layers for raising the height. Sit down on it slightly with cross-legged. Put the right foot on the left thigh and the left foot on the right thigh at the same crossing angle. Push down the upper half of the body to the front and stuck the buttocks out as much as possible, then raise the upper half body. It can let the back straight up and help you to make a stable attitude without efforts. Try to compose your mind for a while. Kanetake Soushin who is the chief priest of a Buddhist temple will come into the room before 7:00am. In a moment, there are only the sound of a bell ringing and silence. This is a Signal for the starting of Zazen. First, join palms in front of your chest and direct fingers upward. Then face the right palm upwards and place the left palm on top to face upwards as well. Lightly touch the tips of the thumbs together and move hands to the lower abdomen. Don’t close your eyes but slightly open and stretch the neck with drawing the chin. The eyesight should be looking down one meter ahead of the floor. Make the back straight like Mt. Fuji and strain the abdomen. You should breathe through the nose, not the mouth. Attend to the abdomen and exhale completely and slowly. The abdomen become flat when you exhale and swell when you inhale. Count the number of breath in your head from 1 to 10 like “hito—tsu, futa—tsu…” which is called “Susokukan”. You will exhale in ” hito—” and inhale in ” tsu”. When you counted up to 10, start again from1. The time of Zazen is 25 minutes. Let’s concentrate on repeating this “Susokukan”. You will feel the noise of an electric fan and the songs of insects spread into the room and time goes. It will finish when the chief priest ring the bell just like the beginning. Join hands in prayer and bow while sitting down. It is time for break for five minutes. Some people who are not getting use to Zazen feel numb in their legs, some can keep the pose. After five minutes, the chief priest come into the room and ring the bell again. This is a Signal for the second half started.



The heart will also be ready when breathing and the body is prepared.

The second half of Zazen is also 25 minutes. When the sound of a bell comes again the morning Zazen is at an end. Join palms together and bow at last. If your legs are numb, you should take your time to be relaxed and massage your legs to stand up. You have chance to be spoken ”Would you like to brink some tea?” after Zazen. There are some tables and chairs in the room and the participants and the chief priest are charring. Some people are the usual who come here every morning, some are beginners. Anyone can talk freely. The chief priest gave a knack for Zazen. What should we do when we cannot become a peaceable spirit?
“You do not have to become a peaceable spirit while Zazen as a meditation. On the one hand, the aim of a meditation is that taking leave from the visible worlds with closed eyes. On the other hand, the aim of Zazen is that looking at the truth to take things as they are.”
People nodded with admiration. Kanetake Soushin is a fifteenth generation chief priest of a Buddhist temple of Korin-in. He told about the history of the temple as well.
“Morning Zazen started 14 or 15 years ago to respond to the requests from many people. At the beginning, it was twice a week and became every morning as the number of participants increased. Now they have the evening Zazen as well from 17:00pm on Sunday. It is held in the main hall, which is capable of holding 50 people instead of the drawing room.”
Korin-rin holds not only Moring Zazen but also various activities like a sutra copyist, Buddhist dialogue sessions and so on. In addition, this temple lends the room to instructors for a yoga class, a calligraphy class and others. The temple has a big heart.
A man who comes here every morning told that he feels good changes in his mind and body since he started to come here.
“There is no rule which bothers me and very freedom. It is really comfortable here.” he said.
It is said that Zazen that makes ones mind and body calm with abdominal breathing and a good posture while morning sunbathing, stimulates to secrete serotonin in body and makes people more active. Serotonin is a brain chemistry, which suppresses the actives of dopamine and adrenaline and makes ones mind calm. This is the reason why Zazen is believed good for health.
“The most important things are breathing and giving a rest to your brain to bring out the potential of your body. The heart will also be ready when breathing and the body is prepared.”
The morning Zazen in Korin-in holds every morning of a weekday with no reservation and free of charge, this is a rare temple in Tokyo.
We recommend you to calm your mind and body in Hiroo when you get up early. You will feel refreshed and be filled with full of energy.







Address: 5-1-21 Hiroo Shibuya Tokyo

Morning Zazen
Open: Mon-Fri, 7:00am-8:00am



朝坐禅:平日 月曜〜金曜

photographer / TOMOHIKO TAGAWA

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