Canoe-obsessed Buddhist monk meditates on Olympic dream

By DAISUKE MAEDA, Asahi Shimbun, May 30, 2016

NAGANO, Japan -- Kazuki Yazawa, 27, awakes at dawn, dons a Buddhist monastic robe and prays five times until 3 p.m. It's all very spiritual.

Then, when that's done, he jumps into a kayak, speeds down a river and thinks about nothing but gold ... Olympic gold.

Yazawa is scheduled to be Japan’s representative in the men’s single kayak (K1) slalom at the Rio 2016 Games.

He works as a monk at the Daikanjin temple in Nagano Prefecture, part of the famous Zenkoji temple, which dates back 1,400 years.

After prayers he does admit with a smile, “I haven’t got used to sitting on the heels of my feet (“seiza” in Japanese) yet.”

After serving his daily duties as a Buddhist monk, Yazawa drives for about 20 minutes to the Saigawa river, next to which is a warehouse that stores kayaks.

Although he can only train for about one and a half hours each day, Yazawa says, “It’s important to do as much as I can while enjoying kayaking.”

Yazawa paddles up and down the river. And he loves it.

The 2012 London Olympic Games was Yazawa’s second time at the illustrious event and it triggered his eventual entry into a Buddhist monastery.

He had finished ninth in the men’s single kayak (K1) slalom, the best position in Japan’s Olympic history. However, Yazawa started to “worry about his second career after retiring from kayaking."

He dreamed of marriage and a family, presuming he would not be able to earn his bread and butter solely through kayaking.

What to do?

Yazawa was not interested in religion. However, a key player who supported his competitive career--Kenei Koyama, the head of the Nagano canoeing association--changed all that.

Koyama was also a chief priest of a temple near Zenkoji.

“Someday, I want to be a person like Koyama who can help athletes with problems,” said Yazawa.

In summer 2013 it all clicked together and Yazawa became a Buddhist monk of Daikanjin temple after training in Buddhism for two months at Enryakuji Temple, the head temple of the Tendai Buddhist sect at Mount Hieizan (revered by Buddhists), east of Kyoto.

In April last year, Yazawa won at the all-Japan canoe slalom tournament and then qualified for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games at the Canoe Slalom World Championships the following September.

Yazawa’s sister, Aki, 24, has also qualified for Rio.

“Now that I am going to Rio, I want to win at the Olympic Games,” said Yazawa.

Medals might have been beyond the reach of Yazawa at the 2012 London Olympic Games, but you can bet he's praying things will turn out a little differently this year.
We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: