Living Life as It Comes

Living Life as It Comes

Post-Disaster Reflections of a Zen Priest in Fukushima

Gen'yū Sōkyū

Japan Publishing Industry Foundation for Culture

Philosophy & Religion

It was the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, which had a particularly profound impact on my home prefecture of Fukushima, that made me painfully aware of the need to live life as it comes, without fixed goals, which tend to be imperfect and grounded in desire.

This book consists of a selection of short essays penned by Gen’yū Sōkyū, chief priest at a Zen temple in Fukushima Prefecture. Beginning in April 2012, he began writing a newspaper column that ran for seven and a half years. Embracing the ever-changing nature of the world, he took up a wide range of topics inspired by his daily activities and experiences, including events in post-disaster Fukushima, temple renovation and soil improvement, Japanese customs, observations about nature, and encounters with people from all walks of life. With a mindfulness sometimes accompanied by a wry sense of humor, he reflects upon the surprises those events and encounters brought and what they taught him. His insightful essays are sprinkled with wisdom on how we should cope with life and death, derived from Buddhist and Taoist teachings. He encourages each of us to follow our mind as it changes according to the circumstances of the moment; the result will be experiences far more valuable than the simple achievement of our initial plans.

GEN'YŪ Sōkyū
Gen’yū Sōkyū was born in 1956 in Fukushima Prefecture. He graduated from Keio University with a major in Chinese literature, and after working in a variety of fields, he entered the training monastery for Zen monks at Tenryūji Temple in Kyoto in 1983. In 2001 he was awarded the Akutagawa Prize for his novel Chūin no hana (Flowers of Bardo), and in 2014 he received the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s Art Encouragement Prize for Hikari no yama (Mountain of Light). He is currently the chief priest of the Rinzai school temple Fukujūji in Fukushima Prefecture. He is also a visiting professor at both Hanazono University in Kyoto and Niigata University of Pharmacy and Applied Life Sciences. After the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami of 2011, he served on the government’s reconstruction plan council and as director of the Tamakiharu Fukushima Fund which supports young Fukushima refugees. He is the author of several novels including Amitāba (Amitābha), Shikarigawa ryūkei (A View of the Shikari River), and Chikurin Shōja (Venuvana-vihāra), as well as nonfiction books on Buddhism, Zen, and meditation, including Gendaigoyaku Han’nyashingyō (The Heart Sutra: A Translation into Modern Japanese), Zenteki seikatsu (The Zen Life), Inochi no mama ni (Life as It Is), and Sōshi to asobu (Playing with Zhuangzi).

*information as of time of publication

Philosophy & Religion

Japan Publishing Industry Foundation for Culture

¥2,800 + tax
ISBN 9784866582184
210 mm x 148 mm / 224 pp. / June 2022

ISBN 9784866582214 (ePub)
ISBN 9784866582245 (PDF)
March 2022

Preface to the English Edition / Preface: Living Life as It Comes / 1. We Are All the Same Age / 2. Soaring through Inconvenience / 3. Flowers for the Buddha / 4. The Tenacity of Five-Storied Pagodas and Prayers / 5. Best of Health to Your Ancestors, Too / 6. Human Rights / 7. Taboo Words / 8. Colds and Their Benefits / 9. The Chrysanthemum and the Sword and Duality / 10. The Boat on the Hill / 11. Efficiency and Harmony / 12. Campbell-sensei / 13. A Country in Need of Constant Tending / 14. Snake Eyes / 15. Equinoxes and Obon / 16. Decaying Homes / 17. The Price of Economizing / 18. The Feeling of Freshness / 19. Solicitations / 20. The Eight Winds / 21. Chestnut Flowers / 22. Publishing Academic Papers / 23. The New “Dream Island” Concept / 24. The “Fukushima 50” / 25. The Virtue of Forgetting / 26. Symbiosis / 27. Okinawan Graves / 28. Soft Stone? / 29. One-mon Prayers / 30. Carpenter Bees vs. Carpenters / 31. Kawauchi and Rhododendrons / 32. The Power of Resolve / 33. The Linear Precipitation Zone / 34. The Nanto Rinzankai / 35. Losing Is Winning / 36. Myōhō / 37. Big Data / 38. Asa (Morning) / 39. Resilience and Kotobuki / 40. Faint Crescent Moon / 41. Wasan and Sangaku / 42. Desmostylus / 43. The Ink of Kobaien / 44. Soil and Buildings / 45. “Oh Vreneli” / 46. Gekka hyōjin / 47. The Children’s Parade / 48. The Utility of the Adam’s Apple / 49. Graves and Meadows / 50. A Demonstration of Dedication / 51. Unkei and Muda Tomohiro / 52. Hearts / 53. A Nation’s Lands / 54. Sontaku and Dangō / 55. Nurturing Life: Crows and Crouching Dogū Figurines / 56. Cuckoos and Warblers / 57. Cleaning the Pond / 58. The Virtue of Shadows / 59. The Attractiveness of Walls and Tataki Floors / 60. Gold and Silver / 61. Sayōnara / 62. Driving in Robes / 63. Hansōbō / 64. A Very Local Move / 65. Fish-Scale Paving / 66. Scenes of the Past / Afterword




Original Japanese Edition


玄侑宗久 著

筑摩書房 刊


Related reads