When I was 13 years old in the UK, I cut out a photograph of the Kamakura Daibutsu (Great Buddha) from an old 1953 book about Japan. For years, this image adorned my bedroom wall. At that time, my interest in Buddhism was developing in secret. I bought books on Zen, which I kept hidden under my bed. I was fascinated by the aesthetics of the Daibutsu. He is part of the reason that I ended up on these shores in Japan. Over my past 26 years living in nearby Tokyo, I have had many opportunities to meet my old friend, as I did last week.
This is a collection of images from over the years.
Photography by El-Branden Brazil
I have had a life-long love for Zen Buddhism, ever since I was a young teenager, when I read a dog-eared 1935 book, called The Spirit Of Zen by Alan Watts. I still have that book, now residing here in Japan.
Zen was my reason for ending up on these distant shores in Asia. However, the first nine years in Japan, had very little to do with Buddhism. It was only through accident or synchronicity that I met my wonderful Zen teacher, Jinen Roshi, at a bar in Shinjuku. He opened up a world that I had dreamt for so long to see.
Having said all of this, I must confess to being the worst Zen Buddhist in the world! There is so much that needs to be worked on and improved. 😂