Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Who is Yamamurasaki Shikashi 山紫倂?

I bought a few cultural relics during my 2013 stay in Japan. One of them is a piece of painting in a wooden frame. I have no idea where it was hung in a Japanese house. It was painted and inscribed by a painter called Yamamurasaki Shikashi 山紫倂, if I am correct about the pronunciation. No information found so far. Don't understand the inscription well. He seems to be a literary man in the late Bakumatsu period. Japanese Confucian scholar Rai San’yō 頼山陽 (1780-1832)  named his study as "Place of Purple Mountain and Crystal Water" (Sanshi suimeisho 山紫水明処.  ) I don't know if this painter was a follower of Rai Sanyo. It is a proof that the Chinese-style literati way of living was still popular during that time. The term "Embroidered Litchi" 锦荔枝 is a Chinese euphemism for "Bitter Gourd" 苦瓜.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Guangxiao Temple 光孝寺 in Guangzhou

Guangxiao Temple in Guangzhou is a very important monastery in the history of Chinese Buddhism. It used to be called Zhizhi Temple 制旨寺 in the Tang dynasty. Many famous Buddhist scriptures such as the Surangama Sutra 楞嚴經 were translated here. A memorial pagoda was built for the sixth Chan patriarch Huineng 慧能 in the temple because Huineng had stayed here and had a famous debate about Chan teaching. During the Ming-Qing transition, the Caodong master Tianran Hanshi 天然函昰 was the abbot and revived the temple.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Spirit Boat Procession (Shōrō nagashi 精霊流し) in Nagasaki


It is Obon お盆 festival in Japan again. Two years ago, I arrived Nagasaki during Obon and learned the Nagasaki style is the Spirit Boat Procession (Shōrō nagashi 精霊流し) influenced by the Chinese residents there. Dr. Yang Kueihsiang told me that it was also called Color Boat Procession 彩舟流し(さいしゅうながし)and can be found in Nagasaki historical records. During the festival, the Rite of Feeding Hungry Ghost would be performed. It is possible that master Yinyuan had participated in these festivals during his stay in Nagasaki because he practiced the Rite of Feeding Hungry Ghosts (Shishi 施食, Shi E'gui 施餓鬼, Fang Yankou 放焰口) in his Obaku monasteries as well. I have a short discussion in my book Leaving for the Rising Sun, page 152.

It is now also part of the popular culture. Sada Masashi's first famous song was written for this festival when he was in Nagasaki.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Haizhuang Temple 海幢寺 in Guangzhou

Haichuang Gate, shot by Jiang Wu
In May 2015, I visited Haizhuang Temple 海幢寺 in Guangzhou. This is one of the oldest Buddhist monasteries built in the tenth century. It was revived during the Ming-Qing transition and was held by Caodong 曹洞 masters, including Tianran Hanshi 天然函昰, Azi Jinwu 阿字今無, and Dangui Jinshi 澹归今释 (Southern Ming loyalist Jin Bao 金堡). These were all famous Zen teachers at that time. I have a brief summary of the rise of the Caodong lineage in Guangdong in my book Enlightenment in Dispute,page 98. The monastery kept a good website about its history. The current abbot is Master Xincheng 新成.

What I don't know is its connection with Guangzhou Foreign communities because it faced Pearl River and the port. Before the Opium War, this was the only scenic spot in the city open to the foreigners. Therefore, it was figured in many European publications about China around the time. Foreign residences and modern societies were developed around this temple.

The Old Haichuang Temple around 1840s.
From China Illustrated, painted by Thomas Allom, 1843. 中譯 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Kindle Version of Leaving for the Rising Sun

I am glad that Oxford published the Kindle version of Leaving for the Rising Sun. Oxford also released a Kindle version of my first book Enlightenment in Dispute. Kindle is a widely used reading device from Amazon. It is now indispensable for any serious readers. You can also send files such as student works and conference papers to Kindle for reading leisurely. I don't know if these Kindle versions are available in China and Japan.