ZENJIRO(禅地朗) talks about Zen(禅) Vol.4: Anime “Demon Slayer (Kimetsu no Yaiba鬼滅の刃)” and Zen禅

Jun 7, 2020

A Japanese animation work “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba 鬼滅の刃” is rapidly gaining popularity worldwide.

It is a story of the Taisho era, which is a mixture of modern and old eras 100 years ago. It is a story in which the hero who was killed his family by a human-eating demon and his sister became a demon by demon’s return blood. The hero, Tanjiro 炭治郎 enters the demon slayer military unit after rigorous training.

While based on the family love and the bond with the family drawn throughout the story, the heroic main character Tanjiro 炭治郎 and his companions fight against demons with special killer techniques and special Japanese swords “Nichirin-to 日輪刀”.

This manga is now very popular in Japan regardless of gender or age. You can see scenes reminiscent of Zen 禅-based samurai in various parts of this Demon Slayer’s story.

Total Concentration Breathing 全集中の呼吸: This is a routine to maximize the unification and physical abilities needed before performing a Special Move. Breathing is one of the secrets of swordsmanship and martial arts, which is based on Kenzen Ichinyo 剣禅一如.

Opening Thread 隙の糸: This is a depiction that even if the enemy has an overwhelming strength, their direction and attck point will appear as a single thread when they have the only chance of slashing attack. Again, we Japanese can easily associate that the idea represents the essence of Kenzen Ichinyo 剣禅一如.

A little strange way of running: A scene when his master, Urokodaki Sakonji 鱗滝左近次, took Tanjiro炭治郎 to the mountain fo training, he ran without swinging his hands. This is a special way of running in the Samurai era. The special walking method in which the right hand and right foot and the left hand and left foot simultaneously appear is called “Namba walking なんば歩き”. This was a stable walk for a samurai who was pointing to a long Japanese sword on his waist without being shaken left or right. The running style was the same. The modern way of walking was imported from the West through army training 150 years ago in the Meiji era, but, strangely enough, this Namba walking can walk farther and faster than normal walking.

Family Love: This has nothing to do with Zen, but I introduced in Vol.2 that the origin of Samurai originated in protecting important families and farmers. Samurai group were forces that derived from defense, not for looting purpose.

Breathing and concentration are very important in Zen, meditation, and mindfulness. Focusing and relaxing movements are more activated with Japanese tea theanine. Would you like to drink Japanese tea and practice Zen?

PS: I actually have three names. The first Zenjiro禅地朗 (Japanese tea). The other is real name. Finally, I’m Kuroda Kyube, the 16th generation十六代目黒田九兵衛. This name of Kyube九兵衛 has been handed over for 460 years since I am the 16th generation from the first generation around 1560. I took care of the two swords I inherited yesterday. When I inherited it, it was full of rust. Gradually remove the rust with a soft cloth, but this is a painful task. It is old as shown in the photo. The one with a short sword is the one used by the second generation Kyube 九兵衛in actual battle, about 430 years ago. The longer one was worn by the fifth generation Kyube九兵衛. Once I remove the rust, I plan to send the “koshirae拵” (handle, sheath, etc.) to an expert for repair.

Next time, I will introduce the culture of the Kamakura samurai (bushi) 鎌倉武士 who made the culture of Kyoto.


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