Welcome to Mokurai's Temple!

Japanese Gardens and Aesthetics

Portraying a Japanese Buddhist Monk in the SCA

Monastic Life
Persona Play
Some Writings
Suggested Reading

Japanese Films

Essential Dharma


The Clan of Matsuyama

SCA Resources
(The Chatelaine's Box)



Portraying a Japanese Buddhist Monk in the SCA


A History of Japan to 1334, George Sansom, Stanford University Press, 1961 - THE source. Highly recommended.

A History of Japan 1334-1615, George Sansom, Stanford University Press, 1961 - Again, THE source. Highly recommended.

Cha-No-Yu The Japanese Tea Ceremony, A. L. Sadler, Charles E. Tuttle Co., Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo, Japan, 1962 - good overview of the basic facts of Tea, detailed descriptions, large collection of tea-related stories and historic facts.

Japanese Tales, edited and translated by Royall Tyler, Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library, 1987 - concise and easy to read collection of folklore including lots of monk stories!

The Sayings of Confucius, translated by James R. Ware, Penguin Books, 1955 - one of the three great teachers well-rounded scholars and educated monks would know.

Japan: The Shaping of Daimyo Culture 1185-1868, edited by Yoskiaki Shimizu, George Braziller, Inc., New York and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1988 - big expensive coffee table book with detailed coverage of this art exhibition. Excellent facts and photos. Highly recommended.

The Tale of Genji, Lady Murasaki, translated by Arthur Waley, Random House, Inc., 1960 - one of the three great classics.

Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu, a new translation by Gia-fu Feng and Jane English, Vintage Books, 1972 - Besides the Buddha, the other of the three great teachers.

The World of the Shining Prince, Ivan Morris, Kodansha, 1964 - a companion book written to assist understanding of the world of The Tale of Genji and other mid-Heian texts. Considered a masterpiece.

The Training of the Zen Buddhist Monk, Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki. Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1994. - Although it discusses experiences in a contemporary monastery, this book is a very good guide to daily life for a monk.


Zen Flesh, Zen Bones ñ a collection of Zen and pre-Zen writings, compiled by Paul Reps. Doubleday, 1989 ñ not necessarily the best introduction to Zen, but very good material and stories. As you learn about zen, more and more of this book resonates.

Entering the Stream, Compiled and edited by Samuel Bercholz and Sherab Chodzin Kohn. Shambhala Publications, 1993.

Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, Shunryu Suzuki. Weatherhill,1970.

The Lotus Sutra, Translated by Burton Watson. Columbia University Press, 1993.

A Concise History of Buddhism, Andrew Skilton. Barnes and Noble Books, 2000.

A History of Zen Buddhism: A History, Vol. II: Japan, Heinrich Dumoulin. Macmillan Publishing Co., 1990


Name Construction in Medieval Japan, Barbara Nostrand Ph. D. (ska: Solveig Throndardottir), Potboiler Press, 1994. - a good tool for choosing a Japanese SCA name. See if you can borrow it from a herald.

Jeffrey"s E-J Dictionary: http://enterprise.dsi.crc.ca/cgi-bin/j-e/dict - my favorite on-line Japanese-English-Japanese dictionary.

Lady Fujiwara's site: www.reconstructinghistory.com - excellent garb construction information.
Master Effingham's site (An Online Japanese Miscellany): http://www.geocities.com/sengokudaimyo/Miscellany/Misc_home.html - Effingham is the SCAs most accomplished scholar on Japanese culture. Attend his Pennsic classes. Read his site. Do what he says!

Kyoto Costume Museum: http://www.iz2.or.jp/fukusyoku/busou/index.htm - this site is in Japanese only. It is an excellent reference for garb.

Disclaimer: "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the Wise. Seek instead what they sought." - Lao Tzu
I am not a great scholar or historian. The information I present here is very basic and may contain some generalities or errors. My experience is mostly with 16th century Japan and Zen, so please forgive me if you feel other periods or cultures are under-represented. The bibliography is far from complete. Comments and suggestions are warmly appreciated. Thank you.
© Eric Munson, 2001. (SCA: Matsuyama Mokurai , OSC), eric.munson@rodale.com This paper is copyrighted. Please do not reproduce whole or in part without the permission of the author except for educational purposes.