Study Tour: Suffering and Illness in Post Industrial Society: The Pathology of Contemporary Japanese Society

With the economic downturn of the Japanese economy in the early-mid 1990s, Japan began to exhibit the kinds of post-modern, post-industrial social problems of the United States and Europe. This vicious cycle of unskillful social and economic development has led to social breakdown in Japan, which is having a deep effect on human relationships and a marked increase in various forms of psychological trauma and disease seen through the abandonment of the elderly; bullying and psychological hazing in many social sectors; the dropping out of youth from social involvement; and suicide. For thirteen straight years (1998-2011), since the full onset of the Japanese economic recession, Japan has exceeded 30,000 suicides per year. As conductors of funerals, Buddhist priests often come into direct contact with families who have suffered from the suicide of a loved one. An increasing number of priests are beginning to get involved in preventative psycho-spiritual care for both the suicidal and the bereaved and reviving the traditional role of the Buddhist priest as a counselor and supporter – a role that has been largely lost in urban, modern Japan. The study “tour” will offer an intimate interaction with two prominent priests working in this field.

Guest Speakers:

  • Rev. Jotetsu Nemoto (Rinzai Zen sect, abbot of Daizen-ji Temple in Gifu)
  • Rev. Fujio Soin (Rinzai Zen sect, abbot of Dokuon-ji Temple in Yokosuka)
  • Ms. Terumi Okaku (Founder of Live On, an NGO to support family of those who have committed suicide)


  • Rev. Shojun Okano (Chief Priest, Kodo Kyodan Buddhist Fellowship)
  • Rev. Yukan Ogawa (Jodo Pure Land sect; member of the Association of Buddhist Priests Grappling with the Suicide Problem)
  • Mr. Ryu Yabana (General Affairs, Kodo Kyodan Buddhist Fellowship)
  • Ms. Chisa Yamashita (Zenseikyo Foundation & Buddhist Council for Youth and Social Welfare)


November 6th (at Kodo Kyodan Buddhist Fellowship)

9:00-11:30 Workshop (more details soon)

11:30-13:00 Lunch

13:00-17:00 Workshop (more details soon)

18:00 Group dinner outside of the temple

November 7th (at Kodo Kyodan Buddhist Fellowship)

9:00-11:30 Workshop (more details soon)

11:30-13:00 Lunch

13:00 Departure by train for Kamakura

14:00 Temple and Shrine Tour of Kamakura (ancient Buddhist capital)

Engaku-ji Temple (Rinzai Zen), Kencho-ji Temple (Rinzai Zen), Hachimangu Shinto Shrine, Komachi Shopping Street

17:30 Dinner at T-Side Indian Restaurant

19:30 Return by train to Yokohama and Kodo Kyodan Temple

Recommended Reading:

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