Travel: Weird subway ads in Japan

Seven Unique and Moving Fictional Books Set in Japan

Japan is a country close to my heart and since I first went there a few years ago, I have become a big fan of Japanese fiction and Asian fiction translated to English. Japanese fiction tends to emphasise the liminal and fantasy aspects hidden at the edges of everyday reality and also exploring the inner…

Book Review: The Tao of Winnie the Pooh by Benjamin Hoff (1982)

Book Review: The Tao of Winnie the Pooh by Benjamin Hoff (1982)

The cultural phenomenon of Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne (1926) crosses generations and time. Winnie the Pooh still speaks to me as an adult within the adult world. It speaks to the child within and her curiosity and wonder at life. The characters are each archetypes of human desires and fears. Pooh: a certified…

Ryoan-Ji zen garden in Arashiyama, Kyoto. Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com

No news of the affairs of men

In the age of omnipresent news and digital devices dominating our every waking moment, this poem by 18th century Japanese hermit poet Ryokan seems very relevant. No news of the affairs of men. How lovely to be without the news of the world. Whatever the news of the day, Ryokan sure as hell didn't give…

Adventures on the Forth and Clyde Canal

The Empty Boat by Chuang Tzu

He who rules men lives in confusion;He who is ruled by men lives in sorrow.Yao therefore desiredNeither to influence othersNor to be influenced by them.The way to get clear of confusionAnd free of sorrowIs to live with TaoIn the land of the great Void. Chuang Tzu (300 B.C.) Water of Leith at dusk, Edinburgh. Copyright…

Inspirational People: Tenzin Gyatso

Inspirational People: Tenzin Gyatso

"If we look at human history, we will find that a good heart has been the key in achieving what the world regards as great accomplishments in the fields of civil rights, social work, political liberation and religion for example. Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth Dalai Lama, after a school talk in Tibet. "A sincere outlook…

Book Review: Awaken in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-discovery by Mark Coleman

Book Review: Awaken in the Wild: Mindfulness in Nature as a Path of Self-discovery by Mark Coleman

Awaken in the Wild is a really great introductory book about the connection between mindfulness and the natural world. Published in 2006, it feels before its time in terms of the themes of overstimulation from technology and mindfulness. There are around 40 brief and themed sections in the book, with a short lesson and then…

Fisherman at dusk, Auckland © Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com

The challenge of a life’s time and a lifetime

It may be when we no longer know what to do, We have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, We have begun our real journey. Wendell Berry (b. 1934) is a poet, farmer, writer and activist. Frozen Lake Menteith in Scotland during mid-winter. Copyright Content…

Moko looks into a mirror

Arriving at your own door by Derek Walcott

The time will comewhen, with elationyou will greet yourself arrivingat your own door, in your own mirrorand each will smile at the other's welcome, and say, sit here. Eat.You will love again the stranger who was your self.Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heartto itself, to the stranger who has loved you Watermelons during…

Book Review: The Mindfulness Survival Kit by Thich Nhat Hanh

Book Review: The Mindfulness Survival Kit by Thich Nhat Hanh

This is a handy guide for mindfulness for busy people living at full throttle in the world. It's a gentle calling to slow down and to heed the five mindfulness training precepts which are: not to kill, steal, commit adultery, lie, or take intoxicants. These are the basic ethics and morality in Buddhism. Zen master…

Hidden shinto shrine in Kyoto Copyright © Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com

The Enlightenment of Everyday Objects

In ancient Japanese tradition, when a treasured household item reaches the end of usefulness, it is given the proper funerary send off that it deserves. This unusual ritual harks back to two ancient philosophies. The Shinto Animist philosophy that all things alive or otherwise have a soul. And the Nichiren Buddhist philosophy that when a…

Ryoan-Ji zen garden in Arashiyama, Kyoto. Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com

Jisei: Haunting Japanese death poems from history

Japan has a long history of jisei, or death poems. Jisei is the “farewell poem to life.” These poems were written by literate people, often monks, royalty or courtiers just before their death.  A Jisei from Prince Otsu in 686 BC is one of the earliest recorded death poems. Not all death poems are written…

Waiting in transit, Tokyo Copyright © Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com

Every picture tells a story: In transit in the JR station

Waiting in transit, Tokyo Copyright © Content Catnip 2018 http://www.contentcatnip.com Everyone is always in transit and a great metaphor for life is that we can only ever trust in the constant flux of change. Forget about the serenity of temples, impermanence is ever-present in JR stations, subway stations and airports. There is something magnetic about…

Travel: Tenryu-ji temple and gardens Arashiyama Kyoto

Travel: Tenryu-ji temple and gardens Arashiyama Kyoto

Tenryū-ji is a temple and gardens founded by Ashikaga Takauji in 1339. It's purpose at the time was to venerate Gautama Buddha. It's considered as one of Kyoto's so-called Five Mountains. In 1994, it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tenryuji dates from the Muromachi period in Japan's 14th-16th century. Among its many…

Travel: Ryoan-ji temple and gardens, Kyoto

Travel: Magnificent Ryoan-ji temple and gardens, Kyoto

Ryōan-ji (meaning the Temple of the Dragon at Peace) is a Zen temple located in Kyoto, Japan. The Ryōan-ji garden is considered one of the finest surviving examples of Japanese Zen temple garden design generally featuring distinctive larger rock formations arranged amidst a sweep of smooth pebbles arranged in immaculate linear patterns, designed to facilitate…

Remember, nothing is permanent

Remember, nothing is permanent

Life is fragile, like the dew hanging delicately on the grass, crystal drops that will be carried away on the first morning breeze. – Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche Do not encumber your mind with useless thoughts. What good does it do to brood on the past or anticipate the future? Remain in the simplicity of the…

Book reviews

Book Review: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Hi, my name is Nao. I am a time being. Do you know what a time being is? Well if you give me a moment, I will tell you. A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me and every one of us who is, or ever was, or…