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Video available! "The Charm of Singing Hymns (Baikaryu Eisanka) in Zen Buddhism"

Reverend Shinyu Okuma speaking at Stanford

Japanese Buddhism Lectures

In a conversation with Prof. Michaela Mross, Rev. Shinryu Okuma discussed the highly popular Buddhist hymns of Japanese Soto Zen, known as eisanka 詠讃歌. These hymns are regularly sung by practitioners of the Baikaryu 梅花流 (Style of Plum Blossoms). Rev. Okuma first introduced these hymns and explained their role in Zen Buddhism. Then, he explained some of the lyrics before turning to elaborate on their melodies and musical structures. He further explained how the Baikaryu eisanka are used in Zen rituals. This event featured a demonstration of the Baikaryu eisanka, with Rev. Okuma singing a few representative hymns of the Baikaryu.


Rev. Shinryu Okuma is a Zen Buddhist priest and renowned singer and teacher in the Soto school’s hymn chanting lineage, the Baikaryu. He trained at the head temple Eiheiji in Fukui prefecture. After finishing his formal training, he devoted himself to the study of singing Baikaryu hymns. Currently, he is the head priest of the temple Tendoji in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. He has taught Baikaryu hymn chanting at many Zen temples in Japan as well as abroad, including a recent workshop in Los Angeles.