About the Blog
My name is Doug and this has been my blog for the last 5 years. Before this, I used to write a Buddhist-themed blog called the “Level 8 Buddhist”, but those days are long gone. This blog began as a simple blog by a Japanophile, a person who loves Japanese culture, but has expanded and changed over time. At one point, I gave serious thought to retiring the blog, but instead I decided to simply change the blog a little to focus on Buddhism, fatherhood and Japanese culture through my own eyes.
The name of the blog comes from a famous Japanese text written in the 13th century called tsure-zure gusa (徒然草). The title of this text is translated to “Essays in Idleness” by Donald Keene, and it’s a popular blog titled used in Japanese blogs. I like that text a lot, and felt inspired to pen my thoughts here too.
I also have a second blog devoted to a famous Japanese poetry anthology called the Hyakunin Isshu as well. Let’s meet the family.
I was born and raised in the Seattle area, and always had an interest in Japanese culture since I was 8. Being in Seattle, we get a lot of exposure to Asian culture other places might not, and this probably had an influence too. I can also attribute interest in Japan to years of playing classic Nintendo and reading the famous “Akira” series of comics when it first came to the US. My interest in Buddhism came when I was 16 and wanted to explore Samurai/Zen culture more. I was pretty naive back then. :p
Later, my first visit to Japan came in 2005 with my wife, and seeing a real Buddhist culture and all it had to offer made me finally convert to Buddhism at last. I’ve mostly been a follower of the Jodo Shu sect of Japanese Buddhism, but for a long time I attended a temple here in Seattle that was part of the similar Jodo Shinshu sect because it was the only available community around here. However, as of April 2013, I’ve decided to pursue Zen Buddhism instead of Pure Land Buddhism. I haven’t “rejected” Pure Land teachings, they are still part of my background, but I feel structured, Zen training would be helpful. I’m also interested in Nara-Period Buddhism as well as Shingon.
However, my interests are not limited to Japan and Buddhism though. I also have a particular interest in Korean culture and Asian culture in general. I’ve spent some time learning Korean as well, but without any real-life exposure my skills are much more limited. I also like to study Latin in my spare time, just because ancient-Roman culture interests me as well. As of writing, I am JLPT N2 certified in Japanese language, which means I am not quite a beginner, but definitely not fluent either. I realize now that N2 is really just the beginning of the road to Japanese fluency.
“Baby” was born in late 2006, and is our first and only child so far (number 2 is coming in late October 2013).
Of course parenting includes lots of screaming, crying and diaper changes, and Baby has certainly done her fair share of each, but I wouldn’t take her back for anything in the world. Now that she is a little girl, and very sociable, we have lots of fun together.
It’s just amazing to watch something so small and precious grow up each day, learning little skills here and there, enjoying silly things like key chains or blocks. I remember the first months when she used to lay on cushion on the floor, playing with a little mobile that would spin above her head. She would watch it for a long time, then she learned to reach up and touch the little animals. Finally, she learned how to grab the animal. It ruined the motor, but we were so proud of her when she figured this out.
Now that’s she’s 6 years old, she has really blossomed as a little girl, and I love to see how her mind works:
My wife and I have known each other since 1998, and we’ve been married since 2004. Time has passed really fast though and we’ve had a lot of fun together. She’s down-to-earth and I am a nerd, so we compliment one another.
Because she is from Japan, and I am American, we have learned a lot from each other over the years. She taught me a lot about Japanese culture, Buddhism and general common-sense things that Westerners like me would usually never learn through books and such. International marriages can be challenging, but if you really take the time to listen to and understand your partner, it really is a rewarding relationship.
I often joke that she is my “bodhisattva” because she teaches a lot of helpful tips on life and religion. I’ve posted a few of them here:
This blog and this page are dedicated to these two special ladies.
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