Yashima Yugen https://YashimaYugen.com The long road to Hollywood Sat, 28 Nov 2020 06:04:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 https://i0.wp.com/YashimaYugen.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/cropped-yashima-yugen-logo-circle.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Yashima Yugen https://YashimaYugen.com 32 32 CoNZealand schedule https://YashimaYugen.com/en/events-en/conzealand-schedule/ https://YashimaYugen.com/en/events-en/conzealand-schedule/#respond Tue, 21 Jul 2020 07:03:16 +0000 https://YashimaYugen.com/?p=1655 Read More]]> I will attend one Reading, and three panel discussions at CoNZealand. Note, the timezone is NZST.

I will read excerpts from “Final Anchors” and “Hosshoji the Rocket Temple” in English at CoNZealand. I will also appeare in other panel discussions including Sugoi Fushigi Show!

You can see and add the schedule items to your calendar here.

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Sugoi Fushigi Show is launched https://YashimaYugen.com/en/news-en/sfs-launch-en/ https://YashimaYugen.com/en/news-en/sfs-launch-en/#respond Sat, 20 Jun 2020 05:22:06 +0000 https://YashimaYugen.com/?p=1616 Read More]]> Sugoi Fushigi Show is launched!
This is a YouTube channel that introduces science fiction of Japan and its neighbors in English. You can display English and Japanese subtitles by pressing the C key on your keyboard.

Watch our first video, subscribe, and tell us what you want to know.

It is run by Osawa Hirotaka @hiroosa, Miyamoto Dohjin @dohjinia, Hashimoto Terry @rikka_zine, and me. We will introduce various works and events in the future.

We will also participate in this year’s WorldCon, CoNZealand.
We are waiting for your requests and feedback.

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Buddhpunk and Buddhist science fiction – the background of “Hosshoji the Rocket Temple” Part 2 https://YashimaYugen.com/en/works-en/essays-en/buddhpunk2-en/ https://YashimaYugen.com/en/works-en/essays-en/buddhpunk2-en/#respond Mon, 18 May 2020 15:16:03 +0000 https://YashimaYugen.com/?p=1577 Read More]]> Continued from Part 1.

Why did I write a Buddhist science fiction short story Hosshoji the Rocket Temple?

First of all, because the world view of Buddhism is attractive. If you read a modern translation of the Lotus Sutra, you will be overwhelmed by its imaginative world. The description of transcendental time and space and the merits of buddhas are truly science fiction. Its scale is astronomical. Indeed, a sutra can be read as science fiction. This grand imagination is similar to that of old Chinese novels, such as Saiyuki (a.k.a. Monkey King) (or Hoshin Engi [Investiture of the Gods]). One should also note the charm of Hinduism, which shares some religious notions with Buddhism and has had a great influence on Esoteric Buddhism. In Hinduism, colorful gods and goddesses with immense powers play vital roles on a cosmic scale. This also reminds us of the imagination science fiction.

Buddhism has a practical purpose, which is to relieve people’s suffering. It might be described as a “prescription for reality.” Human suffering has not changed for thousands of years. Many Buddhist ideas are still relevant today. They are still pertinent as themes of modern novels.

However, as with other religions, the attraction of Buddhism can sometimes become dangerous if it loses its flexibility. Buddhism is a relatively tolerant religion, and yet it also has some intolerant aspects (for example, concerning the status of women). One of the roles of Buddhist science fiction is to think objectively about Buddhism’s problems.

I would also like to experiment with the possibilities of modern Buddhism. For example, what do Buddhists think about technological developments such as nuclear power, the Internet, AI, and evolving modern values? Can AI and robots attain enlightenment? What will happen if a new buddha appears? How can one reconstruct the Buddhist cosmic structure, chuu (or bardo, the transitional stage between death and rebirth), and reincarnation in a science-fiction way?

A work of Buddhist science fiction also challenges novels based on Christian and post-Christian ideas. In science fiction, the works of English-speaking authors are predominant, and Christianity has a strong influence over many of them. The fun of science fiction is that you can create not only fictitious technologies but also fictitious cultures. Fantasy also deals with fictional cultures, but science fiction writers can incorporate science and technology when they develop their fictional cultures. I am not against Christianity. I respect (and sometimes criticize) all religions. However, presenting a non-Christian perspective may be important to English-speaking readers.

Neon Genesis Evangelion is a thought-provoking animation series. It incorporates Christian and related elements, such as angels, Adam, Eve, Lilith, the Lance of Longinus, and the Dead Sea scrolls. This treatment is appropriate for its primary audience, the Japanese. The Japanese have a basic understanding of Christianity, but it remains an exotic religion in Japan. It should be noted that only about one percent of the Japanese are Christians. However, I am not satisfied with the superficial way Evangelion deals with Christianity. In this work, Christianity is only used as a seasoning to produce mysterious effects. Of course, even if the work addresses Christian themes (such as apocalypse or salvation) in a straightforward way, that does not increase its value. The audience is not interested in it. It might be true that tackling serious religious topics in a work of entertainment is risky, and there is no merit in doing so. However, I think that novels can handle religious themes more deeply and better than television series and movies.

My colleagues and I are preparing to launch a YouTube channel in English. It introduces and promotes Japanese and Asian science fiction. I will also participate in this year’s WorldCon, CoNZealand. I would like to take this opportunity to engage in dialogs with readers and writers from around the world about many topics including the significance of Buddhist science fiction.

Now, I would like to introduce a new sub-genre of science fiction, buddhpunk. In a narrow sense, it is defined as stories of a fictional world based on the world view of buddhics. Buddhics is a fictitious academic discipline that combines Buddhism and physics. Buddhpunk is a form of Buddhist science fiction.

So why do I write works of buddhpunk? It’s primarily because I’m tired of stale worldviews such as cyberpunk and steampunk. If it is possible to build a civilization based on cyber infrastructure or steam engines, it should also be possible to build a civilization based on buddhics. In particular, the Buddhist method of overcoming desires provides one interesting answer to the question of how civilization may develop in the future. In addition, the superhuman nature of Buddha and the buddhahood that is said to exist universally stimulates the imagination of science fiction writers. I will show my own interpretation in the prequel to Hosshoji the Rocket Temple, which I am writing now.

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Buddhpunk and Buddhist science fiction – the background of “Hosshoji the Rocket Temple” Part 1 https://YashimaYugen.com/en/works-en/essays-en/buddhpunk1-en/ https://YashimaYugen.com/en/works-en/essays-en/buddhpunk1-en/#comments Wed, 13 May 2020 00:13:03 +0000 https://YashimaYugen.com/?p=1552 Read More]]> I wrote Hosshoji the Rocket Temple as a Buddhist science fiction short story. The e-book has made a record for more than 10,000 paid downloads. I also consider this work as a “buddhpunk” short story. In this article, I would like to elaborate on Buddhist sc-fi and buddhpunk.

What is your idea of Buddhism? In Japan, Buddhist temples are everywhere. If you happen to live in Japan, you might have visited at least one. However, many people have little idea about how monks live in these temples. Temples might be sought as simply a place for a funeral. You might have heard a chanting of a sutra, but again, very few people can understand its meaning when they hear it. In a way, Buddhism seems to be familiar but at the same time, foreign and distant.

Religion is a delicate topic, but it is hard to avoid even for non-believers. Many Buddhist terms have entered into Japanese vocabulary, such as setsuna (a tiny fraction of time), jigoku (hell), gokuraku (paradise), nenriki (supernatural power), etc. Buddhism is also prevalent in the Japanese lifestyle such as Obon. Having a basic knowledge of religions, including Buddhism, leads to an understanding of a culture.

Buddhist science fiction can be defined as a subgenre of science fiction that reflects the world view of Buddhism to some extent. For example, in Mitsuse Ryu’s Hyakuoku no hiru to sen’oku no yoru [Ten Billion Days and One Hundred Billion Nights], Sittata (Siddhattha) and Ashura are major characters together with Jesus Christ. Some works by Komatsu Sakyo also reflect Buddhist thoughts. In the works of manga, parts of Tezuka Osamu’s Hinotori [Phoenix] deeply reflect the idea of reincarnation and “dependent origination.” The latter is a Buddhist term to describe the connection of cause and effect among things. In Ichikawa Haruko’s Hoseki no kuni [Land of the Lustrous] 28 “gems” are attacked by getsujin [moon people] in shapes of Buddha statues. The number 28 may also be a reference to 28 subordinate deities in Buddhism. Whether this manga is categorized as science fiction may be an open debate, though. In Oku Hiroya’s “GANTZ,” the protagonists fight with Buddha statues. It is interesting that quite a few works depict buddha statues as mysterious enemies for some reason. There are also many works that feature reincarnation. However, it should be noted that reincarnation is not a uniquely Buddhist notion. Many other works incorporate Buddhist elements, but there is only a handful of science fiction that focus on Buddhist themes or feature main protagonists as monks. There are also biographical works of Buddha or Kukai, but these are not science fiction.

In any case, a work of Buddhist science fiction does not aim to spread Buddhism. It contains fictitious elements and is not intended to teach an accurate Buddhist knowledge. However, it could be a primer to make readers interested in Buddhism.

I am not a Buddhist expert. Buddhism is very diverse and complex, and even an expert may find it difficult to know all about Buddhism. There are huge differences in views and positions depending on the country or denomination. For example, one might find commonalities between Tibetan Buddhism and Jodo Shinshu, but at the same time, the way of thinking and values show stark differences. Even within Tibetan Buddhism, there are many different sects. Not being a monk or a Buddhist can be an advantage, because I can write from a neutral position.

So why do I write Buddhist science fiction?

To be continued in Part 2

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“Final Anchors” (short story, Fifth Nikkei Hoshi Award Grand Prix winner) is published from Hayakawa Shobo https://YashimaYugen.com/en/works-en/final-anchors-en/ https://YashimaYugen.com/en/works-en/final-anchors-en/#respond Sat, 02 May 2020 03:17:33 +0000 https://YashimaYugen.com/?p=1458 Read More]]>

Two AI self-driving cars are about to collide. They have to decide which one should survive in 0.5 seconds.

The reaction time of humans is too slow to deal with the situation. There is no time to communicate with any parties other than the approaching vehicle. Now the Last Judgment by AIs begins.

“I am Ruriha. In accordance with the Ordinance on Emergency Accident, I delegate the driver and commence the AI negotiation phase. Driver’s name: Simon Galbraith. What took you so long?”

Which vehicle should launch emergency-stop anchors and self-destruct? Four anchors, which are required to be equipped on all AI cars, extend in 0.02 seconds and pierce the asphalt surface, immediately halting the vehicle on the spot. As a result, the kinetic energy exceeds the energy absorption capacity of the airbag, and the driver is instantly killed as well as the onboard AI. Thus, these are called final anchors.

What is the solution to this trolley problem?

Can Ruriha protect Simon, the driver?

Final Anchors is on sale as an e-book, which is published from Hayakawa Shobo on August 15, 2018.

Accident site (the intersection of Grant Avenue and Lombard Street)

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Hosshoji the Rocket Temple (short story, The 9th Sogen SF Short Story Prize winner) https://YashimaYugen.com/en/works-en/hosshoji-en/ https://YashimaYugen.com/en/works-en/hosshoji-en/#respond Fri, 01 May 2020 06:01:00 +0000 http://chouse.m12.coreserver.jp/wp/?p=49

The beginning of “buddhpunk”

Hosshoji is a nine-storied pagoda that is also a spaceship. The astromonks begin an adventurous journey to visit the Great Buddha on a faraway planet!

The prayer furnace of the Hosshoji Temple reaches its critical point after a long prayer. Thus, the thrust necessary for the first space velocity is obtained. The towering nine-storied pagoda is the pinnacle of the latest Buddhic science — a fusion of Buddhism and physics that reveals the truth of the universe. It is a star temple — a rocket that cuts through the strange space-time and reaches a star in just 49 days. The star is called Jisosei, which lies 39 light-years away from Enbudai (Earth).

The team of astromonks is led by a medical monk, Ganshin. The scholar monk Shokai travels with Emmanuel the nun, Egan the machine monk. The mandalas indicate the space structure. They are used as star maps to show them the way. The seven astromonks can endure the harsh environment of space by exercising the meditation and breathing techniques and controlling their bodies and minds.

The Great Buddha of Jisosei is about to be publicly exhibited for the first time in 180 years. The mission of Hosshoji is to send a girl Sarje, a reincarnation candidate, to the planet for the ceremony.

The astromonks encounter mysterious buddhas one after another. Symphonic mani-wheels spin and bellow accelerated sutra. Emmanuel wears a Kongo Rikishi space armor. Shokai invokes a powerful Buddha.

What is the fate of Sarje!?

What is the Great Buddha?

This is the beginning of “buddhpunk.”

The trial version in Japanese is here.

Many Buddhist terms are used in this work. The glossary (in Japanese) is available.

This work is included in an anthology “プロジェクト:シャーロック” (“Project Sherlock”), which was published by Tokyo Sogensha in June 2018.

Also available as a standalone e-book. It includes beautiful cover image and illustrations by KATO Naoyuki.

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Tempus Fugit (short story) https://YashimaYugen.com/en/works-en/tempus-fugit-en/ https://YashimaYugen.com/en/works-en/tempus-fugit-en/#respond Fri, 06 Dec 2019 05:46:00 +0000 https://YashimaYugen.com/?p=1139 Read More]]> “Stay as you are, Time. You are so beautiful.”

From Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust

Ataraxia is an abnormal phenomenon in which the consciousness of all human beings ceases after 22 days. The only way to counter the crisis was to “accelerate” the entire humanity!
Atalante is a cephalopod-based bio AI and the world’s fastest. Can she and a team of scientists save humanity?

“Just because we live in the same era, it doesn’t mean we live the same time.”

Some choose to accelerate, some choose not to. Can they communicate even if they have different time flows? The multi-layered story poses some fundamental questions about our meaning of life and the quality of “time.”

Click here for the e-book version of “Tempus Fugit” (in Japanese).

It is also included in “Toki wo aruku” (“Walking through Time”) , a time-themed SF anthology published by Tokyo Sogensha. It was released on October 30, 2019.

The anthology comes in both electronic and paper books.
Let me know what you think about this work.

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