Main Hall at Antai-ji
|Location||Shin'onsen, Mikata District, Hyōgo Prefecture|
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Antai-ji (安泰寺) is a Buddhist temple that belongs to the Sōtō school of Zen Buddhism. It is located in the town of Shin'onsen, Mikata District, in northern Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan, where it sits on about 50 hectares of land in the mountains, close to a national park on the Sea of Japan. It accepts visitors in the summer months, but is inaccessible during the winter because of the heavy snow.
Antai-ji was founded in 1921 by Oka Sotan as a monastery for scholars to study the Shōbōgenzō. It was located in the Gentaku area of northern Kyoto and many leading scholars studied there. Vacated during World War II, Sawaki Kodo (1880-1965) and Kosho Uchiyama (1912-1998) moved into Antai-ji in 1949, and made it a place for Zazen. During the late 1960s, the name of this small temple became known both in Japan and abroad for its practice of Zazen and formal begging. It was unusual in Japan at the time for supporting itself without a parish. Instead of performing ceremonies such as funerals to make money, Antai-ji relied completely on donations from lay practitioners and takuhatsu, or ritualized begging.
The increase of visitors and the many new houses being built around the temple created much noise, which made it difficult for the practice of Zazen to continue at the Kyoto location. Therefore, the following abbot, Watanabe Koho (1942–2016), decided to move Antai-ji to its present location in northern Hyōgo. The temple was later demolished, and all that remains of the original Antai-ji is a fenced-off stone under a maple tree that used to be part of the temple garden just outside the abbot's room. It contains a memorial to Sawaki Kodo. A Jehovah's Witness church now stands approximately in its former location
Together with the quietude of the mountains, Watanabe Koho sought a new lifestyle that would bring Zen back to self-sufficiency when he moved Antai-ji to its present location. The former abbot Miyaura Shinyu (1948–2002) protected this quiet life of Zazen while putting the ideal of a self-sufficient monastery into practice, until his sudden death in the snow in February 2002. His disciple, the German monk Muho Noelke (b. 1968), continues as the present abbot. A documentary film about the monastery entitled "Zen for Nothing", directed by Werner Penzel and starring Sabine Timoteo, premiered at the Solothurn film festival in 2016.
- Kōshō Uchiyama, Nakiwarai no Takuhatsu, Laughter Through the Tears: a life of mendicant begging in Japan
- Kosho Uchiyama, Opening the Hand of Thought
- Arthur Braverman, Living and Dying in Zazen: Five Zen Masters of Modern Japan