Modern monastic life in Japan: A talk with Rev. Daiko Matsuyama, Deputy Head Priest of Taizo-in Temple, Kyoto

November 23, 2020 - 5:00pm to 6:00pm

How and why do people enter monastic life in modern Japan? What is the training like? What responsibilities do monks have and what role do they play in Japanese society today? Rev. Daiko Matsuyama, Deputy Head Priest of Taizo-in temple talks to BOSP Kyoto director Mike Hugh about his life, his work (including teaching on the BOSP Kyoto program), and his advice for any students thinking of studying in Kyoto.


Born in 1978 in Kyoto, Rev. Daiko MATSUYAMA obtained his Master’s degree in Agriculture and Life Sciences from the University of Tokyo. After three and half years of training at Heirin-ji Temple, Niiza, he became the deputy priest of Taizoin Temple in 2007. Matsuyama is acclaimed for organizing intercultural activities such as Zen experience tours for foreign visitors and talks at embassies in Japan and at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club. In May 2009, he was elected as a Japan Tourism Agency’s Ambassador for its “Visit Japan” Campaign. He has been a member of Kyoto’s Ambassadors for Tourism since 2011, and was listed as one of “The Top 100 People of the New Generation 2016” in Nikkei Business. And he was appointed as a fellow of US-Japan Leadership Program from 2016. In 2018, he was invited to Israel as the delegate of Young Leaders Program. And he also became a visiting lecturer at Stanford Univ. He received The Award of Commissioner for Cultural Affairs and Shigemitsu Award from Japan society in Boston in 2019.

As a young representative of the Zen Sect in Japan, Matsuyama has interacted with many religious leaders, such as having an audience with the Roman Catholic Pope and conversing with the 14th Dalai Lama. He also participated in the Davos World Economic Forum in 2014, and continues to work actively beyond national and religious borders. He is the author of the book, Forget What’s Important First: 30 Zen Teachings for the Wavering Soul (Sekai Bunka Publishing, 2014) Strolling around Zen Gardens in Kyoto (PHP Publishing, 2016) Introduction of ZEN for workers (Kodansya Publishing, 2016).

Dr. Mike HUGH is the director of the Stanford BOSP Program in Kyoto since 2013.

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