Rev. Eon Asahina Seminar - 2018

Fusion with the Other: Thoughts on a religious conference

The Kamakura Inter-faith Forum was formed in the aftermath of the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, uniting members of Shinto, Buddhist, and Christian faiths who had gathered a month following the disaster on the occasion of a joint memorial service for the dead. Religious leaders based in the historical Kamakura cultural area joined together, transcending religious doctrines and denominations, with a view to create a vibrant ‘Religious city, Kamakura’. In cultivating a ‘prayerful heart’, they aim to help people in Kamakura and further afield to achieve peace and lead a vibrant spiritual life.

Throughout Japan there have been numerous cases in which different faiths join together to pursue religious activities. Yet, this instance of three faith traditions joining together seems quite rare. Founded by Minamoto Yoritomo, Kamakura possesses a history spanning more than 800 years. It is home to numerous Shinto shrines, most notable of which Tsuruoka Hachimangu; a multitude of Buddhist temples, including the main centres of Kamakura Buddhism; and various Christian churches.

One of Kamakura’s most remarkable features is that a large number of religious organizations co-exist peacefully in this relatively small geographical area. Each of these bodies has conducted its own valuable work, but until recently no organization existed to connect them. The opportunities to come together had been few. Now, however, the Kamakura Inter-faith Forum is creating such opportunities and, indeed, has become a significant force to foster a beautiful harmony.

As at last year’s Zen 2.0 forum, I will introduce the Kamakura Inter-faith Forum. And I will speak on the significance and value of this unifying body. Also, I will shed light on why Japanese curry rice, in my view, is the ultimate food of harmony!