(See if you can guess which one is me…)

Here upon the Pale Blue Dot dwells a man who spends his days obsessing over things like KPop/JPop music,1 foreign languages (particularly Japanese and Korean), Buddhism, Star Trek and books by Roger Zelazny. He is blessed by a wife and children that he loves dearly and who tolerate his odd habits.

As of October 2015, I am certified to be a minister’s assistant (something like a deacon) with the Buddhist Churches of America. Someday, I hope to complete my training for full ordination.

Little Guy

My Son: Future World Cup Champion

My second child was born in October 2013 and we call him “Little Guy”. As a tiny baby, he didn’t do much besides sleeping, farting and drinking milk, but now he is 2 years as of writing and loves Buzz Lightyear, Soccer, and being the center of attention.:)

Having two kids is challenging but quite rewarding too. It’s wonderful to see little brother and older sister play, interact and such.


The World as drawn by my daughter.

Our first daughter, “Princess” (previously called “Baby” when she was younger) was born in late 2006, before I started blogging. She was my inspiration for taking Buddhist practice more seriously so I could be a better father.

Parenting includes lots of screaming, crying and diaper changes, and Princess certainly did all these things. But we got to watch her grow into a sweet little girl who loved Princesses, Anpanman, and Daddy. Now that’s she’s 9 years old, she has really blossomed into a nerdy young lady who loves art, Star Wars and her daddy.:)

The Bodhisattva

Mommy's Bento Art 4

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:

Anyhow enjoy the blog!

1 Current KPop and JPop favorites are: Perfume, Arashi and Brown Eyed Girls.

82 thoughts on “About

  1. I swear to all that is good and holy gerald if you move your blog again…..

    Some people have time consuming careers or children and can’t keep tract of your ever shifting web presence. 😉

    The new place seems nice though. I like it.

  2. HI Doug,
    Thanks for your new blog. I enjoy reading it and keeping in touch. I like the bucket.
    I think as we change and grow in life, our blogs change too. I’ve had different ones too, but recently am writing here (see link above) and it is good.
    PS “Nobodhi” is the best anonymous name ever.

  3. Maggie: Thanks for understanding. Change was needed, and I feel pretty relieved I did it. I like your new blog. :)

    Just Elise: I did preserve a fair amount of content from the old blog onto this one, so you should still be able to find it. I have the rest backed up as well, so if you need anything, just ask. :)

  4. I have also tried to visit you old blog and have been wondering if you had opened up a new one. And here it was. Great!
    I will visit regularly.

    Thank you:)

    Senshin (a danish Tendai Buddhist)

  5. Eksith, Senshin: I was sure I had sent everyone an email detailing the move, but I guess I missed some addresses. I had exported my old blog into XML, and then parsed the information using Perl, but I guess I didn’t do it right. Sorry you guys were not informed. 😦

    As for the old blog, I am glad it’s gone, after a month now, I am glad I changed blogs, and changed focus. :)

  6. Don’t be sorry. I didn’t subscribe to your old blog. I have just looked in from time to time, so you couldn’t have sent me an email!

    But I found your new blog. All is as it should be:)

  7. Doug, no worries man! Just glad to have found your new address.

    I get a ton of email so I was probably staring right at it, but didn’t notice.
    Work + Personal email FTW!😛

  8. I see you’ve put the Japanese to the Iroha.
    Shouldn’t that be in kana? The clever thing about the iroha is that it uses all the syllables but only once. (I think you also need the ones no longer used) Why it is used for alphabetical order in Japanese.
    I think my calligraphy teacher gave me a hand written version once. It was a practice sheet of hers.

  9. Good question. Actually I wanted to get the meaning of the Iroha across more than the clever word play. Japanese people are pretty familiar with the Iroha, as far as I’ve seen, but may not realize the Buddhist context of it. That’s what I hoped to convey. The Iroha is an excellent Buddhist poem, especially the last two lines. Normally it’s associated with Kukai, the founder of Shingon Buddhism, but generally research now casts this into big doubt. It might have been a tribute to Kukai though by a later disciple or something. Hope that makes sense. :)

  10. I just discovered your blog (just started one myself); loved Dune (movie and books); also in IT but not near as deep (desktop support – used to do more server/router admin, but I get paid well to surf the net); and have just refreshed back into meditation and Zen Buddhism after a year of not “being aware”

  11. Hi Sekishin and welcome to the JLR! I should warn you that I am not a Zen Buddhist, and don’t agree with all its tenets, but I find it an interesting to learn more about my background in Pure Land Buddhism through it. Things always look different on the other side and all that.

    Look around, hope you enjoy!

  12. We are representing a number of Buddhism books both now and in the future. We would like to put you on our mailing list so we can send you comp review copies.

    If you would like to receive the copies, please send us your mailing address.

    Thanks very much.

    – Hugh

  13. Just came across your blog, very neat! I am a Buddhist myself, though I lean more towards the Tibetan kind.:) However, I speak some Japanese and lived in Japan for a year, so I have a great interest in Japanese Buddhist sects and culture in general.
    Your daughter is adorable.:)

  14. found you by accident while surfing. Enjoyed the link to Morris’ photos. Castro sensei started a Sunday meditation service this summer. I’ll pass the link on to him as food for thought. Wow, your daughter has grown… that’s a beautiful pic of her! Are you guys going to be coming through Seattle any time soon? Hope to see you then.

  15. alchymyst: Welcome to the JLR! Thanks for the kind words, and always glad to meet a fellow student. :)

    Alan: Good to see you! I’ve been chatting with Mas and Rev. Castro from time to time, though I wasn’t aware of the meditation class. I missed having it around, so it’s good to see it back. I’ll be back in Seattle in the second-half of September. Wife and I miss Betsuin much. :)

  16. Hi Doug,

    Just read an e/m note which contains the URL to your blog and stated that you might be coming back soon.

    Have you been taking a lot of pictures that could be on the web (royalty free I hope).

    The idea of improving the website is still alive.

    Since your departure I decided to switch from Windows to Ubuntu for my internet computer. Am at the early stage of this. Haven’t set up a perfect environment but I am satisfied enough to not want to return to Windows for this. I do have to continue to use Windows on my main computer because of software.

    Thomas Smith

  17. Hi Thomas,

    Long time no see. :) Good to hear from another temple member. Lately a lot of people have been visiting here, so word must be spreading or something. :) As for the website, I know Mas had wanted to talk to me about some stuff, so that might come up when the time is right.

    Glad to hear of your switch. I stopped using Windows a while ago (Mac actually, with virtual instances of Linux or BSD), and it’s been nice. We should catch up when I get back in mid-September. See you then!

  18. I came across your blog and was interested in it because of your family. I am soon going to be launching a new online magazine geared towards multicultural/lingual families. The magazine will feature articles on culture, language, traditions, books & entertainment, regular columns and 3 bloggers. One of the columns is going to be on Raising Eastern Children in Western Countries. I am seeking a range of writers from different religious backgrounds (Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, etc) as well as cultural who have the commonality of raising their “Eastern” (interpret this word loosely) in the West. Would you be interested in being a contributing writer? I am also accepting submissions of any kind. I have included a full description of the magazine below (forgive me- it’s a bit long). Feel free to get in touch with me at incultureparent at gmail.com

    InCultureParent is an online magazine dedicated to global parent culture and traditions. We will feature articles about raising multicultural and multilingual children coinciding with traditions and holidays around the world. Mainstream parenting websites are largely from the perspective of one dominant cultural framework. InCultureParent seeks to challenge the dominant culture of parenting information and present viewpoints from around the world. (For example, in many non-Western cultures children are potty-trained as infants. Or first foods vary greatly across cultures – Japanese babies eat fish as a first protein before they are one year old). Different cultures have diverse ways of parenting and differing priorities. Additionally, tradition and religion become more relevant when you have children and mainstream parenting websites are also silent when it comes to this area. Websites that do cover the realm of tradition and religion tend to be religious websites which we are not. InCultureParent blends culture, language and tradition and presents research-based and anecdotal articles on everything related to these areas.

    We are targeting multicultural families, families interested in
    learning about other cultures, expat families, families who are not from the US but are raising children in it and the many families who are you name it (Mexican, Egyptian, Persian, Armenian, Chinese, Vietnamese, etc)-American/British/Canadian/Australian/etc, who are interested
    in parenting information that speaks to their interests and concerns.

    InCultureParent will feature regular articles on the subjects of global parenting, raising multicultural/lingual families as well as spotlight two global holidays and traditions per month together with craft ideas for kids and recipes. The website will include three bloggers who share the common theme of raising multicultural and multilingual children and highlight good books for kids that feature different cultures.

    We are currently accepting submissions.

  19. Although it has been a few months since my last visit, I am so pleased to see your new blog and all the blogs long gone. Personally, I don’t care how many times you’ve needed to regroup, shift gears, self reflect and adjust your objectives. The way I see it is, all your past work has served as indications to your readers of what we can continue to look forward to as you continue to grow and enrich your writing before our eyes by way of being “flexible”. Thanks!!!

  20. I’m new to your site; I’m really impressed and appreciate your work.

    I write, and am developing a scene that takes place during a Japanese Buddhist funeral. I’d like to convey the sound and rhythm of the chanting. I’ve been looking for a romaji translation of the Amida Kyo Sutra without luck. Would it be appropriate to use three lines from your translation of the amida dhrani? Would you agree to this use of it?

    Do you have the romaji translation of the beautiful lines in the beginning of the Amida Kyo Sutra that talk of the Land of Ultimate Bliss, the treasures and the golden sands?

    Thanks! Lee

  21. Hi Leonidas and welcome. I am actually pretty surprised no one’s bothered to post a romaji version of this sutra. I looked and sure enough, can’t find one! 😦

    I actually was secretly working on this, so if you can wait a few weeks, I’ll have something up at least for the first few lines. In the meantime you’re welcome to use whatever you like off the blog, as it’s fairly open. I’ve added a Creative Commons license for reference to the right. But anyway, go nuts. :)

  22. Hello Doug! I am glad I found your blog. I have read a little about Buddhism here and there, but have just started practicing it. We have a very small Zen sangha where I live. Also, I’ve been into Japanese culture for years – although I have not been to Japan. For a long time I have gone back and forth about wanting to teach English in Japan. Still not sure what to think about that.

    But anyway, how do I subscribe to your blog? And, if you have the time, could you check on mine? I’ve written many thoughts about Buddhism, and have been trying to figure out if studying Japanese is a wise thing to do. Thanks!

  23. Hello and welcome to the JLR! As far as subscriptions go, I don’t know how to do that. People somehow figure it out and I’ve never subscribed to my own blog! :)

    Far be it from me to offer advice, but for Japanese, it’s like any other skill in that it’s an investment, and quite an involved one if you don’t live in a foreign country. Living in a foreign is an even bigger adventure, and not one to take lightly. But at the same time it’s quite an amazing experience, but you have go in with both eyes open. Other than that, I can’t offer much else. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  24. Hi Doug

    Do not know whether i am at right place for an introduction but anyway; Konnichiwa!

    Great to have discovered your site as I recently (early March 2010) visited Japan and have nobody at home to share the experience really. Live in Johannesburg South Africa (except for sushi bars and Chinese restaurants there is only one Japanese restaurant i know about).

    Have been to Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, Mount Koya (Koyasan) and Hiroshima. Share your love of Japanese culture, language and religion. Since age 12 interested in it. Currently practicing Chan/Pure Land (Taiwanese teacher), which is perhaps closer to Honen’s version than Shinran’s.

    Looking forward to share and learn from everybody. Also interested in Shinto (do not know to much about it), tea and sake. Experienced Japanese food great (at home i try to follow a macrobiotic diet).

    Keep well.

    Namu Amida Butsu

    Namu Amitofo

  25. Hi Hanzono and welcome to the JLR! I believe you are the first person from Africa to read thus blog so welcome indeed!

  26. Hanzono;
    Ispent a 10 hr flt from London to Mexico with some South Africans, they were good company (which is saying a lot) hear Jo’burg is gorgeous.
    I’m a Pure Land practitioner in Honen school style but interested in any Chinese similarities differences. Do you do any visualization, prostrations, chant mantras? or is it all Amituofo chanting?

  27. Hi Doug,
    I really enjoyed reading your blog! I like the style and feel of your writing.
    Having an keen interest in Japan (and it’s culture), doing JLPT N3 next month, working in IT, and enjoying learning about religion… all helped me like the site.
    I guess I also seek to make the small world around me a place as good as I can.
    Hope to move back to live, work and play in Japan sometime soon.

  28. Hi Brad and welcome to the JLR! Always happy to meet people of the same interests. Who knows how many are out there!:-)

  29. Hi cocomino, and welcome to the JLR! I don’t know much about Japanese culture, but I read a lot. If you asked me about American culture though, I wouldn’t know anything! :p

  30. Followed you over here from the comments on my blog (thanks for that btw!) and when I saw Arashi, JLPT & Dune (one of my favorite books of all time) I had to subscribe immediately! Looking forward to reading.

  31. Hi there and welcome to the JLR! Hope it proves entertaining (almost as much as your guy’s awesome blog). :)

  32. I am contacting you because I am hosting the February edition of the Blogging Carnival on Bilingualism at ‘Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things’ (http://solnushka.wordpress.com/ ). You can see some of the previous carnivals and more about them in general here: http://bilinguepergioco.com/blogging-carnival-on-bilingualism/ .

    I’m looking forward to hosting my first Bilingual Blogging Carnival! I’ve enjoyed reading the others so much. It’s great to find out that there are others out there suffering the same triumphs and celebrating the same setbacks as my family does in our attempt to bring my nearly three year old son up as a hopefully fairly balanced English and Russian speaker. It’s an interesting time, as they are picking up so much new language at this age.

    If you would like to take part, please send me a post on bil/multilingualism, bi/ multiculturalism, language learning or teaching, or any other topic inspired by bringing up children bi or multilingually by noon on Sat 5th March. I hope to get the carnival up and about on Monday 7th March.

    Any questions, don’t hesitate to ask me.


  33. Hi Solnushka, and welcome to the JLR. Unfortunately, I have no time to devote to another project. My plate is full right now and will be through the rest of 2011 at this rate. Thanks for the invitation!

  34. No worries, I quite understand. It’s a good excuse for me to trundle around and find more interesting blogs.

    Good luck preparing for your next Japanese exam. I am almost inspired to dust of my hoarde of Russian books…

  35. Hi there!

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and find many of your posts, especially about Japan and its culture extremely interesting. It’s the kind of blog that draws you in and gets you hooked!

    Noting that you are learning Japanese, and doing quite well at it; I was wondering what advice you would give to someone looking to take up another language? With me it’s Arabic, but I believe the study methods would be the same. Do you prefer tapes, books, etc? I know you have a Japanese wife, and so you always have someone to have Japanese conversations with, but what would your advice be to those who are not near native speakers of the language they are looking to learn?

    Sorry for the long questions.

    Again, great blog!

  36. Hi Fujin and welcome to the JLR! Good luck in your studies of Arabic. It’s a pretty interesting language I hear. If you can, meet up with a local community in your area (either Arab cultural groups or a religious one like a Mosque) and get to know people. Talking with people in that language is still the best approach.

    Apart from that, there are good resources online (JapanesePod101.com has a sister ArabicPod101.com I think) for getting constant exposure. The keyword is ‘exposure’. Books are important for study, but you have to gain a lot of “flight time” and exposure. It takes a long time, but practice pays off.

    Best of luck

  37. Hi Doug,

    Thanks for the reply. I am a Muslim and so I am a part of a local Masjid; the problem however is that the number of native Arabic speakers, and ‘proper’ Arabic speakers is next to zero. I’ll check to see if there are any Uni societies that maybe let in ‘outsiders’ who have a predominantly Arab makeup.

    I’ll check out the link you suggest. Also, with regard to exposure, do you think that even perhaps putting an Arabic news channel on in the background is a good way to get used to listen to the language, etc?

    Thanks again

  38. Hi Fujin,

    Yes, constant, consistent exposure to the language will definitely help, including listening to news, radio and podcasts. You have to do it a little bit each day, don’t force it, but the key is just getting acclimated to the sounds. That’s advice fellow readers gave and I started trying it out these past months and it seems to work, though progress is slow. Hearing a foreign for an hour versus hearing it all day (I.e. living there) will mean slower progress but progress nonetheless. If you hear a foreign word 50 times you will get pretty familiar with it. If you hear it 500 times, even more so.

    Best of luck!

  39. Hi there. What aspects of Nara B’ism are you studying? It’s a fascinating field and I agree with Takakusu that almost the whole history of B’ist sects is written in the evolution of B’ism in Japan. Also, where in Japan is the Yuzu-Nembutsu temple you blogged? Thanks so much.

  40. Hi Paul and welcome to the JLR. I am studying the general practices and outlook at the time. As they were the only sects that still had a connection with India, and followed traditional, not modified, Buddhist monastic practices (until the medieval period), and thus is very interesting to me. I don’t have much to go on, but I agree with your sentiment that Japan provides an interesting museum of Buddhist evolution that has been erased on the mainland.

    The Yuzu Nembutsu temple is in Osaka, website here:

  41. Hi there,

    I’m Sofan Chan a Buddhist painter and I came across your very informative blog and I was wondering if you would like to use any of my Buddha paintings on your posts and articles or as a resource material? You will find them here, http://www.theartofhappiness.net/buddha-paintings.htm

    I love your posts and they are truly inspiring. If you do decide to use any of the photos of my Buddha paintings, please just put a small credit on my behalf. You could link the image back to my site, http://www.theartofhappiness.net/buddha-paintings.htm or whatever credit you like to put.

    Thank you for your time and I am hoping for your positive response.

  42. Hi Sofan, and welcome to the JLR. Thanks very much for the kind offer; I will definitely reference your website if I use a painting.

    P.S. Sorry for the late reply.

  43. Hi Doug,

    Well, I can relate to your adding and deleting of blogs. I have had 1 blog and 1 website, both of which I have deleted. Today, I started a new blog:


    I hope to be more diligent with this one. It may take a while to get it all together the way I want it, but I think it will be more natural.

    In Oneness,

  44. We share a lot in common, Doug.
    Buddhist, Japanophile, Japanese wife and kids, video games, looking for a way to reign control of the internet galactically, etc…
    I enjoyed meandering through your blog/site here, very informative and captivating.
    Please feel free to “link up” via LinkedIn, if you are on there… I don’t have facebook or any of that trendy stuff. Too busy…


  45. Hi John (another John) and welcome to the JLR! I actually don’t use LinkedIn anymore than Facebook, so apart from Twitter (jphiled@), this is usually how people reach me. :)

  46. Hi Nadine, and welcome to the JLR. Regarding your question “A di da phat” is Vietnamese and means “hail to Amitabha Buddha”, while “Namo Shaka Nyorai” is Japanese for “hail to Shakyamuni Buddha”, the historical Buddha. They’re both forms of prayer albeit different languages and different Buddhas. But this is a minor point.

    These kinds of prayers are very common in Buddhism and represent the devotional side. It’s kind of like a buffet where people find something they like and devote their energies to that. In the end, they all lead people along the Dharma. Also both Japan and Vietnam, among other places all absorbed Buddhism from China hence the prayers and devotional style are similar.

    Hope that helps.

  47. good way to study sutras — get festival tts to read an english translation out, encode it as mp3, sit down with chinese character text. the game is to try to get your eyes to hit each character as the meaning is read aloud. i’ve done this with the diamond sutra and found it helped me get a feel for the meaning i had never thought possible. it only works well with chinese, and if your character count is already pretty high. but with text where i only know 50% of the characters, i still get a lot out of it. and with a text where i know most of them, it’s a superb way to ‘compile’ the source code of disparate possible meanings. when i’ve been reading a chinese text (lately it’s stories by wang xiaobo, highly recommended) that way, i feel like i’ve just come out of the shower. love your commentary on ff7 by the way.

  48. Hi Arisosirises and welcome to the JLR,

    Reading sutras out loud definitely does help in my experience. I once tried to memorize a pretty long liturgy, but with little success: I could retain it briefly, but by the following day, I’d forgotten the whole silly thing. So, later I found some mp3s online and just kind of “followed along”, which helps. :)

  49. “Each time I got too stressed out, I deleted the blog, and lost the posts, then regretted it and started over.”
    Love this. I call it the firebrand cycle when it happens to me, as it does at intervals. But it’s a good thing to do too – we hold too tightly. I’m a serial blogger, but now split my blogs into private and public. For everyone else’s benefit!

  50. Ha! That’s a good way to think of it. I do get into firebrand mode sometimes, burn myself out, and need a break. Having done this now for 4-5 years, I see a recurring pattern, but you’ve articulated it nicely. :)

    P.S. Welcome to the JKLLR.

  51. Wow, you’re tackling Korean and Japanese? I took two semesters of Korean in college and they were the hardest two courses of my school career. I envy your aptitude for languages.

  52. Hi Ericjbaker and welcome to the JKLLR!

    I took Japanese in college and like you, I found it grueling and eventually. Later I met my wife, who’s Japanese, and learned the language more effectively that way. Check out AJATT via Google Search if you can. He has a lot of good advice for learning languages and succeeding at it. Long story short: exposure and having fun. :)

  53. Hi, Doug!

    Always interesting to read a person’s journey to Pure Land Buddhism. Thanks for blogging about it. Hope that you found the Hawaii Hongwanji Center website, IBS and the Center for Buddhist Education. Finally, you have a wonderful resource in the Seattle Buddhist Church. Please say “Hi” to Rinban Castro for me!

    In Gassho,

    Nishimura Masahiko

  54. Hi Mas Nishimura and welcome! I haven’t been to SBC in quite a while, but I have many fond memories of Rinban Castro, and I really miss all the times we spent together on Buddhist training and such.

    The IBS is something I’ve often been curious about, but haven’t afforded a trip to CA in quite a while, so it might have to wait another day. I have met some other Japanese-Americans in Nishi Honganji years ago while there on a vacation, so it’s nice to see people interconnected like that.

  55. hi… Thanks for your blog . I got very useful information about Nara. Keep up the good intention – sharing with others. May this sharing bring your happiness and joy , peace and wisdom too.

  56. My brother suggested I would possibly like this website.
    He used to be totally right. This submit actually made my day.
    You cann’t consider simply how so much time I had spent for this info!

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