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First Zen Bunka Prize

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Date 1999/6/25
Details In commemoration of the thirty-fifth anniversary of the establishment of the Institute for Zen Studies, two individuals and two organizations were awarded the first Zen Bunka Prizes in a ceremony held at the Kyoto Tōkyū Hotel. Rev. Matsubara Taidō and Rev. Isobe Ryōshū were presented with Zen Bunka Distinguished Effort Prizes, while the Daitō-kai and Shinryū-kai were presented with Zen Bunka Encouragement Prizes.
Zen Bunka Distinguished Effort Prize
Matsubara Taidō: For many years Rev. Matsubara has been famous for his books and sermons, which reflect his deep faith in Buddhism, his warm regard for his fellow human beings, his profound commitment to the Way, and his wide-ranging scholarship. The author of over one hundred books, his 1972 monograph Hannya Shingyō Nyūmon (An Introduction to the Heart Sutra) became a record-breaking bestseller and set off a wave of interest in Buddhist publications. Though now well past the age of ninety, he continues his writing activities and travels throughout Japan giving sermons, and remains active as the head of the trans-denominational  Buddhist organization Namu no Kai.
Isobe Ryōshū: Rev. Isobe, former head of the Preachers’ Association of the Joint Council for Rinzai and Obaku Zen, received qualification as a high-ranking preacher in 1949. In the half-century since then he has delivered over 5,600 sermons and lectures, served as an instructor at preacher-training courses, and otherwise devoted himself wholeheartedly to spreading the Dharma. He remains active as an instructor of preachers.
Zen Bunka Encouragement Prize
Daitō-kai (Great Lamp Association): The Great Lamp Association is an outgrowth of the Six Dragons Association, a group formed in 1963 by the priests of six Daitoku-ji subtemples. In 1974, under the encouragement of Rev. Kobori Nanrei of the subtemple Ryōkō-in, they formed a reading circle for the study of the Recorded Sayings the Founder of Daitoku-ji. Their continued efforts over the years to read and annotate this text have done much to preserve the waning skills in Sino-Japanese among the Zen priesthood today.
Shinryū-kai: Formed in 1985 by former students of Ōi Saidan Roshi, Chief Abbot of Hōkō-ji, the Shinryū-kai has subsequently developed into a broad-based association of Zen monks and followers. Following the Zen ideal of “Above, to seek enlightenment; below, to save all sentient beings,” the Shinryū-kai is an open organization stressing freedom and equality. Among its goals are the promotion of Buddhist practice, social welfare, and the development of approaches to religious education and temple management appropriate for the modern age.