by Chris MaGee
Here's a little history lesson for today: during the early Kamakura period (1185–1333) there lived a young nobleman named Dōgen who decided that the life of an aristocrat wasn't for him. Instead he had a burning desire to understand the nature of life and suffering and thus became a Buddhist monk, and he went on to study under some of the greatest Buddhist teachers in Japan at that time. One of them, Kōin, an abbot of the Tendai School of Buddhism encouraged Dōgen to travel to China to study the Chan Buddhist teachings and in 1223 he did just that. Dōgen spent 5 years studying the Chan teachings in Zhejiang province then returned to Japan in 1228 and brought these teachings with him. We know Chan Buddhism under the Japanese name, Zen. Dōgen founded the Sōtō School of Zen and spent the next 25 years writing and teaching, ultimately becoming one of the most important philosophers and religious leaders in Japanese history.
Got all that? There'll be a written test on it. Well, if you didn't get it all you can always wait to watch the movie about Dōgen's life coming to Japanese theatres on January 10th simply titled "Zen". Directed by Banmei Takahashi it will star television actor Kantarou Nakamura as Dōgen and a pretty impressive supporting cast including Tatsuya Fujiwara, Sho Aikawa, Jun Murakami and Yuki Uchida.
Kadokawa Pictures, who are producing "Zen" have set up a pretty lush looking website for this historical epic. Check it, as well as the trailer for "Zen" here.