30 common characteristics of people who fall in love with Japan



RocketNews 24:


Chances are since you’re visiting our site, you probably already have an interest in Japan or other Asian countries. But have you ever had a friend who knows next to nothing about Japan, but you just have a feeling that they would come to love the island country given the right incentive?

If so, you may recognize some characteristic qualities of that friend in the following list written by Japanese blogger and all-around-life expert Madame Riri. This time, she’s come up with some common traits of foreigners who grow to love Japan based on her own observations from time spent abroad.

Do you find yourself conforming to any of the following patterns?


In English, we’ve got a lot of terms for lovers of Japan. We’re sure you’re all familiar with at least one Japanophile, whose deep interest in Japanese culture leads him or her to study Japanese and visit the country several times. Maybe you also know a “weeaboo/Wapanese,” who tries a little too hard to sound like he knows what he’s talking about and borders on the slightly obsessive side with his huge anime DVD collection. The term otaku has even made its way into the English lexicon, despite its negative connotations in Japanese. But before those people had any connection to or knowledge about Japan whatsoever, was there some kind of hint that would predict their later infatuation with the Land of the Rising Sun?

The following list by Madame Riri tries to answer just that. As you’re reading, remember that the list refers to people who don’t know much about Japanese culture yet, but if you were to, say, introduce them to some cultural aspect or bring them to Japan just once, then BAM!–the spark of love towards Nippon will grow by leaps and bounds.

Madame Riri also stresses that these items are to be taken with a grain of salt. This list is not meant to imply that every Japanese person shares these common features, nor that people who have these commonalities are guaranteed to fall in love with Japan. They’re just personal observations that she has noticed in many people who fit a general trend.

Enjoy her list!


1. They like one or more of the following: manga, anime, or video games.

Yep, let’s just get this one out of the way nice and early.

2. They are vegetarian. Or, they’re health conscious and take great care in what they eat.

We think what she’s trying to say here is that these people place a high value on fresh, seasonal food and take great pains with presentation.


▼A traditional Japanese breakfast



3. They think that a society with men in charge is for the better. 

Despite slow progress, Japan remains a male-dominated society, with women largely expected to quit working once they start a family.


4. They think characters like Hello Kitty are adorable.

Along with that, they have ridiculously large collections of character goods, like one 29-year-old Brit Natasha Goldsworth:




5. They harbor good feelings toward unassuming people,  even if their own list of career achievements is impressive.

Maintaining a sense of modesty is emphasized, as in Japanese culture.


6. They like polite people, and are personally always thanking people with a smile. 

Tied in with Japan’s culture of extreme hospitality, or omotenashi.


7. They would choose fish over meat, given the choice.

But that’s not to say they don’t go wild for yakiniku, either!




8. They somehow feel at ease when they see shy people, or people who can’t express themselves well. 


9. They get irritated when others aren’t punctual or can’t keep promises. 

In other words, they’ll probably get along well with people from the country where station staff have mastered the seven-minute-art of cleaning the bullet train:




10. They aren’t religious, but believe there’s a god out there somewhere. 

If asked, most Japanese people would say that they have no religious affiliation, though they do regularly participate in several Buddhist and Shinto (arguably more of a spirituality than a religion) practices.

On the other hand, Japan does have a comic about young Jesus and Buddha living together as roommates in modern Tokyo


11. They think that couples will do better if the women walks a little behind the man (metaphorically speaking). 

See #3 above.


12. They dislike parties that last for a long time. They’d rather go home early. 

Perhaps along the lines of Japanese work-related drinking culture (see nomikai), which is a necessary but usually time-restricted aspect of Japanese work culture.


▼A typical nomikai



13. They often feel like shouting, “Don’t just talk about yourself but listen to others, too!” 

Group harmony is valued over individualism, perhaps?


14. They have slightly unconventional hobbies. They are probably seeking approval from somewhere. 


15. They live by a sense of the changing of the seasons–appropriate flowers are displayed during each month, only vegetables in-season are consumed, etc.


▼Extra points if they love cherry blossoms!



16. They constantly check up on the latest technology.


17. They can’t not go to the latest popular travel spots.


Case in point: What happened to Mt. Fuji after becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site last year:



18. They don’t get along with people who tend to think that America and Europe are the center of the world. 


19. They have a weak stomach. They often get stomachaches.

We’re not quite sure what she means by this one…


20. They enjoy taking baths–it’s the height of relaxation.




21. They are skilled at working with their hands, such as when wrapping Christmas presents. 

Furoshiki add a nice touch to any present, don’t you think? 


22. They are often told that they are too serious.

The key word here is majime, which suggest a strong sense of earnest diligence.


23. They think people should be praised for working hard and long. 


24. They don’t like to smell sweaty, but they don’t like to use perfumes, either. Unscented is the best. However, they do enjoy sniffing a waft of fragrant shampoo.


▼We recommend Shiseido’s popular Tsubaki Shampoo, made with oil from the camellia flower.



25. They often find themselves saying, “I’m busy,” or, “I don’t have time.”


26. They tend to be on the soft-spoken/taciturn side. 

Madame Riri is definitely referencing Japanese adults here, and not the crowds of squealing high school girls ubiquitous in Japan.


27. They are often called “kind” by others.

A bit vague…


28. They always wash their hands before eating when eating out. Or they kill germs with hand sanitizer.

Japanese people are very fond of cleanliness before eating. If you’ve ever been to Japan or to an authentic Japanese restaurant, you’ve probably noticed that the server provides you with a hot, wet towel (oshibori) to wipe your hands with before dining.


▼But the real question is, can any of you fold an oshibori bunny??



29. They are economical and hate wasting things. 

There is also a very specific Japanese word for this trait–mottainai.


30. They think that small details are very important regarding business matters. They believe that the success or failure of something depends on what extent they have emphasized the particulars.  

So–have we got anyone humming “I think I’m turning Japanese yet? Your friends may need just a little nudge, and soon you’ll have all the enthusiastic travel companions you could ever want on your next trip to Japan!


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30 common characteristics of people who fall in love with Japan


Artist Profile: Recycled book sculptures by Long-Bin Chen


Recycled Book Sculptures by Long-Bin Chen: gallery1.jpg




We’ve posted the work of Long-bin Chen previously as part of the Dissections and Excavations in Book Art exhibit at The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. Today we take a closer look at his work specifically. The New York-based artist carves stacks of books or papers into warriors, Buddhas, and other often Asian culture-inspired sculptures, the finished piece resembling stone carvings.


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 Artist Profile: Recycled book sculptures by Long-Bin Chen

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Artist Profile: Long-Bin Chen’s recycled book sculptures

Artist Long-Bin Chen explores different cultural meanings, and seeks to combine ideas and concepts from the East with those of the West. He incorporates such Asian iconography as Buddha heads and Japanese warrior figures, as well as imagery from other cultures, into his work. He chooses to work with local printed material from the communities in which he is an artist in residence, including telephone books, magazines, and other cultural debris of our information society. At first glance, the sculptures appear to be stonework, and most viewers are surprised to learn that Chen’s sculptures are soft and made from paper.

His more recent works are large-scale Buddha heads carved from piles of phone books. The Buddha sculptures represent the missing heads of many ancient Buddha figures that have been looted from Asia and sold to Western museums and collectors. Since colonial times, Westerners have taken heads from the Buddha statues in Asia and brought them back to the West. While one finds so many Buddha heads in Western museums and galleries, an equal number of Buddha bodies in Asia are headless. When carved into phone books, Chen’s Buddha heads contain the names and numbers of millions of residents. These heads represent caring Buddhas from the East who have come to take care of the West.

To learn more about Long-Bin Chen, please visit


8 reasons to visit this bizarre Buddhism theme park

RocketNews 24:

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At any amusement park run by the “big two” – Disney or Universal Studios – you can be whisked away to a picturesque fairytale castle, or live out scenes from your favourite movies. But what if what you really want is to ride through the depths of hell and then go alligator fishing? Suoi Tien Cultural Amusement Park, located on the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City, is a mammoth of a theme park that delights and baffles in equal measure. Read on for our eight reasons not to miss out!

1) The entire park is Buddhist-themed
Suoi Tien is the world’s first (and, as yet, only!) Buddhist-themed amusement park. As well as rollercoasters, parades and a water park, the resort is also chock-full of Buddhist temples and statues, reflecting this important part of Vietnamese history.

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2) It’s colourful…VERY colourful
In an obvious but well-deserved comparison, the park has been described as “Disneyland on acid” and “Disneyland gone mad”. Bright colours, neon and gold abound. In place of Mickey and friends, Suoi Tien has a team of mascots with mythical origins: a dragon, a unicorn, a tortoise and a phoenix. Do they give autographs, though…?

3) It’s huge – but not in the way you might expect
At over 100 hectares, the park is much too big to see in one day. It doesn’t beat the major American theme parks in terms of land mass, but inside Suoi Tien, everything – from park mascots to the Buddha’s hands – is built on a colossal scale.

4) An amazing salt-water pool
Inside the resort is Tien Dong Beach, an artificial beach and water park…

5) … watched over by a giant creepy head
Specifically, the giant creepy head of Hung King. Because carving his likeness out of (presumably fake) rock is the best way to pay homage to the emperor. But where’s the rest of his body…?

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6) Alligator fishing
It’s not uncommon for theme parks in the West to have a petting zoo, where visitors can cuddle up to rabbits, or feed snacks to domesticated animals. At Suoi Tien, however, you don’t feed the chickens – you feed chicken to alligators as bait. There are 1,500 alligators in the pond, so presumably they’re not too hard to catch.

If you prefer your thrills to come with less direct animal-taunting, you could always get on the “Midair Bicycle” ride and pedal in the air above the alligators instead.

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7) A ride depicting the 18 Gates of Hell
One of Suoi Tien’s top attractions is a dark ride through Buddhist hell, featuring blood-curdling screams and repenting sinners. Even more amazingly, someone decided that this masterpiece of an idea should be called “Unicorn Palace”. Next door is the “Bat cave with innumerable bats”, which sounds even more hellish.

8) It has hammocks
Once you’re weary of teasing captive animals, it might be time for a rest. If this were Disney or Universal, you’d have to share your bench with a life-size cartoon character put there for a photo op. But here the rest areas are just that – designed for you to take a proper rest! Rent a hammock for an hour and reflect on the extraordinary and terrifying things you saw today. Don’t have nightmares…

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Dragons abound, as does gold.

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▼ The attention to detail is impressive, too. But what happened to that horse in the top right?

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▼ Your annual quota of creepy model people, all in one place!

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Source: Naver Matome
Images: 4travelVietnam Navi, edited by RocketNews24

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8 reasons to visit this bizarre Buddhism theme park


2013 Ranking: The Places In Japan That Made an Impact on Foreign Visitors


Every year, seven to eight million foreigners make the trip to Japan. But where do they go sightseeing? And, more importantly, do these places come up to scratch? A list of the most impressive sightseeing spots for the year to date, as ranked by foreign tourists, has been released by the popular travel site TripAdvisor. And while you’d think the top spot might go to a beloved and well-known destination like Kyoto or Tokyo, it actually goes to a simple-looking, modern building in the south-west of the country, in Hiroshima Prefecture.

The number one place that foreigners say they’re glad they visited is … The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.

Located near the infamous Atomic Bomb Dome, it might not be the most traditional nor the most picturesque place in Japan, but it’s definitely unique as the site of one of the most unfathomable events in human history. The exhibits displayed at the museum and the emotions felt as visitors go back to that place in time make a profound mark on people. Despite the tragedy and sadness, or maybe because of it, visitors ranked this as a place that met and exceeded their expectations.

Here are what some foreign visitors had to say about the museum:

“I’ve been three times, and every time I go it makes a big impact on me” (Spain)

“There are no heroes in war. I got the feeling that everybody is a victim. This is the most awesome museum in the world” (Australia)

“To visit Japan without stopping by this museum would be a mistake” (India)

“The displays are shocking but at the same time very significant” (Australia)

“This is a museum worth visiting. You can feel the fear and terror of the sufferers. The exhibits make you wish for peace and hope that this never happens again” (China)

“The exhibits deal with a very sensitive issue but people of all ages should see them. It will make them think profoundly” (Switzerland)

While the number one ranking might be surprising, the other places on the list are a little more in line with most Japanese itineraries. Get to know Japan again with the latest list of satisfying destinations below!

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2013 Ranking: The Places In Japan That Made an Impact on Foreign Visitors

▼ #2: Fushimi Inari Shrine (Kyoto)


▼ #3: Tōdaiji Temple (Nara)


▼ #4: Itsukushima Shrine (Hiroshima)


▼ #5: The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (Kyoto)


▼ #6: Kiyomizu-dera (Kyoto)


▼ #7: Jigokudani Monkey Park (Nagano)


▼ #8: Shinjuku Gyoen (Tokyo)


▼ #9: Naritasan Shinsho-ji Temple (Chiba)


▼ #10: Tsukiji Outdoor market (Tokyo)


The Top 30 Destinations:

1. Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, Atomic Bomb Dome (Hiroshima)

2. Fushimi Inari Shrine (Kyoto)

3. Tōdaiji Temple (Nara)

4. Itsukushima Shrine (Hiroshima)

5.The Temple of the Golden Pavilion (Kyoto)

6. Kiyomizu-dera (Kyoto)

7. Jigokudani Monkey Park (Nagano)

8. Shinjuku Gyoen (Tokyo)

9. Naritasan Shinsho-ji Temple (Chiba)

10.Tsukiji outdoor market (Tokyo)

11. Hakone Open-Air Museum (Kanagawa)

12. Sensō-ji Temple (Tokyo)

13. Nara Park (Nara)

14. Kurokawa Onsen (Kumamoto)

15.  Sannenzaka Ninenzaka(Kyoto)

16.  Nikkō Tōshō-gū (Tochigi)

17.  Mount Fuji (Shizuoka, Yamanashi Prefecture)

18.  Kenrokuen (Ishikawa)

19.  Eikando (Kyoto)

20. Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium (Okinawa)

21.  Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum (Nagasaki)

22.  Hase-dera (Kanagawa)

23.  Sankei-en (Kanagawa)

24.  Meiji Shrine (Tokyo)

25.  Okuno approach (Wakayama Prefecture)

26.  Matsumoto Castle (Nagano)

27.  Kotoku-Great Buddha of Kamakura (Kanagawa)

28.  Chidorigafuchi (Tokyo)

29.  Yanaka (Tokyo)

30.  Sanjusangendo (Kyoto)

Images: Hatena Fotolife Ogura Sansou Ken Box  


Osamu Tezuka’s BUDDHA 2 anime film to be released February 2014

Toei will release OSAMU TEZUKA’S BUDDHA 2 (BUDDHA 2 手塚治虫のブッダ~終わりなき旅~, BUDDHA 2 Tezuka Osamu no Budda ~ Owarinakitabi ~) nationwide in Japan on February 8, 2014. Produced by Toei Animation in association with Tezuka Productions, the film continues the life story of Siddhartha — later known as Buddha — begun in OSAMU TEZUKA’S BUDDHA -THE GREAT DEPATURE– (手塚治虫のブッダ -赤い砂漠よ!美しく-, Tezuka Osamu No Budda Akai Sabaku Yo! Utsukushiku, 2011). After Siddhartha witnesses the deaths of his friends, he struggles with the questions “Why must mankind suffer? Why we do live?”

BUDDHA 2 is directed by Toshiaki Komura, who made his debut with the television anime GENJI TSUUSHIN AGEDAMA (ゲンジ通信あげだま, Murasaki Shikibu Genji Monogatari) in 1991. After joining Toei products, Komura’s major works include YES! PRETTY CURE 5 (Yes!プリキュア5, Yes! Purikyua 5, 2007), DIGIMON FUSION BATTLE (デジモンクロスウォーズ, Dejimon Kurosu Woozu, 2010) and TORIKO (トリコ, 2011). Kozo Morishita, director of the first film, returns as executive producer. Reiko Yoshida, known for DRAGON BALL Z (ドラゴンボールゼット, Doragon Booru Zetto) and K-ON! MOVIE (映画 けいおん!, Eiga Keion!, 2011), wrote the screenplays for both Buddha movies.

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Osamu Tezuka’s BUDDHA 2 to be released February 2014



Did you find what you dreamed of, young Buddha?

India, 2500 years ago. Siddhartha, heir to the throne of the Shakya Kingdom, gives up his royal privilege to embark on a great quest… continuing on his endless journey accompanied by Assaji, a mysterious boy who can foretell the future, and Dhepa, a one-eyed trainee monk. He witnesses what has become of Migaila, the woman he once loved, and the horrid death of Assaji who even prophesied his own end. Siddhartha is tormented by the suffering and death that humankind cannot escape from.

Meanwhile, there is upheaval over the secrecy concerning the birth of the Prince Virudhaka of Kosala Kingdom. The outraged Kosalan prince with his subservient giant, Yatala, makes a move on Shakya, once Siddhartha’s home and the root cause of his anguish.

A man who gave up his country and a man determined to destroy it — Siddhartha and Prince Virudhaka. The world starts turning rapidly when their paths cross…!!

Prince Virudhaka and his henchman, Yatala, lead an assault on the Shakya Kingdom

Voice Cast
Queen Maya: Sayuri Yoshinaga
Tatta: Kenichi Matsuyama
Prince Virudhaka: Yoko Maki
King Suddhodana: Kiyokazu Kanze
Siddhartha: Hidetaka Yoshioka
King Binbisara: Shinya Owada
Brahman: Tetsuo
King Pasenadi: Hiromasa Taguchi
Migaila: Nana Mizuki
Assaji: Miyuki Sawajiro
Depa: Keiji Fujiwara
Yatala: Ryuzaburo Ohtomo
Mother of Prince Virudhaka: Sumi Shimamoto
Princess Yashodara: Yumi Kakazu
Minister Bubu: Naomi Kusumi
Princess Pajapati: Kanako Tojo

Director: Toshiaki Komura
Screenplay: Reiko Yoshida
Original Comic: Osamu Tezuka
Executive Producer: Kozo Morishita
Producers: Riuko Tominaga, Bogdan Gyarmath
Character Designs: Hideaki Mashiba, Akihiro Asanuma
Animation Supervisor: Akihiro Asanuma
Art Director: Shinzo Yuki
Director of Photography: Masahiro Asanuma
Music: Michiru Oshima
Shakuhachi Performance: Dozan Fujiwara

Produced by: Osamu Tezuka’s BUDDHA 2 Production Committee
Production Company: Toei Animation Co., Ltd.
Produced in Association with: Tezuka Productions
Distributor: Toei Company, Ltd.
Sales Company: Toei Company, Ltd.

© Osamu Tezuka’s BUDDHA 2 Production Committee

Siddhartha’s friend, Tata, and former love, Migaila

Siddhartha travels with the one-eyed trainee monk, Depa, and Assaji, a boy who can foretell the future

Wolves encircle Assaji

Buddha 2 anime film’s trailer highlights Ayumi Hamasaki’s theme song

The official website for Buddha 2: Tezuka Osamu no Buddha ~Owarinaki Tabi~, the second film in the planned trilogy based on the late Osamu Tezuka‘s Buddha manga began streaming the first promotional video for the film on Monday.

The video previews Ayumi Hamasaki‘s theme song “Pray.” The song will mark the first time in 12 years that Hamasaki is contributing a song for an anime film.


J-Pop princess Ayumi Hamasaki engaged to UCLA Medical student


The official fan club of Ayumi Hamasaki announced on Friday that the 35-year-old singer is engaged to a 25-year-old male medical student at the University of California, Los Angeles. She added to her fans, “As my partner is an ordinary student, I would be very happy if you could watch over us quietly.

The couple had gotten engaged on Thursday. According to a source linked to Hamasaki, she is not pregnant. The two had met during the New Year’s holidays through a friend, and began dating around spring.

Hamasaki had told fans that she had married Manuel Schwarz, an Austrian actor living in America, in Las Vegas on January 1, 2011 (about four months after meeting him). However, she announced a year later in January 2012 that she had gotten divorced. Hamasaki had not registered her marriage with Schwarz in Japan, so her upcoming marriage with the medical student would be considered her first in Japan.

Hamasaki is also writing and singing the “Pray” theme song for Buddha 2: Tezuka Osamu no Buddha ~Owarinaki Tabi~, the second film in the planned trilogy based on the late Osamu Tezuka‘s Buddha manga. It will be Hamasaki’s first theme song for an anime film since her “No More Words” song for Inuyasha the Movie: Affections Touching Across Time in 2001, and only her seventh theme song for any film, live-action or anime.

Hamasaki contributed theme songs to the Inuyasha television anime series, the live-action film SHINOBI – Heart Under Blade, and the live-action Dragonball: Evolution film.

She played Yuri Sakazaki in the original anime video Art of Fighting (Battle Spirits Ryuko no Ken), and her “Connected” song inspired an animated music video

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J-Pop princess Ayumi Hamasaki engaged to UCLA Medical student



Oldest Buddhist shrine uncovered in Nepal- May push back the Buddha’s birth date


National Geographic: Time to push back the Buddha‘s birth date a century or so? Archaeologists may have uncovered evidence of the oldest Buddhist shrine yet discovered, dating to around 550 B.C.

Located at Nepal‘s Lumbini pilgrimage center, the legendary site of the Buddha’s birth, the discovery points to the renowned religious figure living more than a century earlier than dates accepted by many scholars.

What we have got is the earliest Buddhist shrine in the world,” says archaeologist Robin Coningham of the United Kingdom’s Durham University, lead author of the discovery study, released on Monday by the journal Antiquity.

In the study, the international archaeology team reports digging beneath existing brick structures at the shrine, which is visited yearly by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. The excavations showed that older wooden structures lay beneath the walls of the later brick Buddhist shrine. The layout of that more recent shrine duplicates the layout of the earlier wooden structures, pointing to a continuity of Buddhist worship at the site, Coningham says.

 “The big debate has been about when the Buddha lived and now we have a shrine structure pointing to the sixth century B.C.,” Coningham says. The team used two kinds of scientific dating to find the age of the early shrine.

Outside scholars applauded the discovery but cautioned against too hastily accepting the site as the oldest discovered Buddhist shrine without more analysis.

Archaeologists love claiming that they have found the earliest or the oldest of something,” says archaeologist Ruth Young of the United Kingdom’s University of Leicester in an email message.

The Buddha’s Birthplace

Buddhism is one of the world’s great religions, with more than 350 million followers, most living in East Asia.

By tradition, Lumbini is the garden site where the Buddha’s mother, Maya Devi, grasped a tree and gave birth to the historical figure Siddhartha Gautama, who later became the Buddha.

The exact date of the Buddha’s birth is disputed, with Nepalese authorities favoring 623 B.C., and other traditions favoring more recent dates, around 400 B.C. Regardless, by 249 B.C. Lumbini had became one of the four sacred centers of Buddhism, marked by sanctifying inscriptions and a pillar left there in 249 B.C. by the Indian emperor Ashoka, who helped spread Buddhism across Asia.

Later abandoned, the site was rediscovered in 1896 and re-established as a worship center, the Maya Devi temple, which is now a World Heritage site. Concerned about wear from visitors, UNESCO, along with Japanese and Nepalese officials, supported Coningham and colleagues as they documented conditions at Lumbini and investigated the history underneath the layers of brick structures left from Ashoka’s era.

 The research was also supported by the National Geographic Society.

We had almost unique access to the site that probably won’t come again for another generation,” Coningham says. “For that reason, we made our work completely open and transparent to pilgrims. Their experiences were quite moving to see as we did our work.

Ancient Tree Shrine

Digging beneath a central shrine, the researchers uncovered postholes pointing to a wooden railing surrounding a tree shrine and dating to around 550 B.C., says Coningham. They also found an older brick structure.

The center of the shrine was unroofed, the team found, and contained mineralized tree roots, surrounded by clay floors worn smooth by visitors. It was likely an ancient bodhigara, or tree shrine.

The tree roots appear to have been fertilized, and although bodhigara are found in older Indian traditions, the shrine lacked the signs of sacrifices or offerings found at such sites.

It was very clean, in fact, which points to the Buddhist tradition of nonviolence and nonofferings,” says Coningham.

The team zeroed in on the shrine’s age with radiocarbon dating of charcoal from the wooden postholes and optically stimulated luminescence dating, a method that reveals radioactive decay times of elements in the soil to reveal when it was last on the surface.

Overall, Coningham argues, excavations at the site point to its cultivation starting around 1,000 B.C., followed by the development of a Buddhist monastery-like community by the the sixth century B.C.

Scholarly Caution

The new evidence from this project shows that this ritual activity was taking place centuries prior to the Asokan levels and this is really significant and interesting,” Young says.

Julia Shaw, a lecturer in South Asian archaeology at University College London, called the claims for a wooden railing surrounding a possible tree shrine convincing but speculative.

She was cautious about the oldest Buddhist shrine claim.

The worship of trees, often at simple altars, was a ubiquitous feature of ancient Indian religions, and given the degree of overlap between Buddhist ritual and pre-existing traditions, it is also possible that what is being described represents an older tree shrine quite disconnected from the worship of the historical Buddha,” Shaw says.

Still, it does indeed present some new insights into the archaeology of Indian ritual in general,” she adds.

Coningham called the chance to study the site and contribute toward Lumbini’s conservation important, particularly due to its growing popularity as a pilgrimage site.  By 2020, more than four million pilgrims are expected to visit.

It was amazingly busy at times, people praying and meditating,” Coningham says. “It was challenging and exciting, working on a living religious site.

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Oldest Buddhist shrine uncovered in Nepal- May push back the Buddha’s birth date