Archive for the ‘The ‘Net’ Category

was a slogan on a t-shirt I saw once. What a provocative idea, to honour everything you encounter as sacred. Everything.

If only the rabble believed that our budo, communications and relationships were sacred, we wouldn’t have the storm of craziness on the Internet, with speculation, suspicion and disinformation.

Soke, in the first few weeks of training, announced that in the next 3-4 years, that we would be going to a new Hombu Dojo because the railway right of way will, within approximately the same period, require us to leave the land the current Hombu sits on. He told us the new Hombu Dojo would be a repository for the treasures he had amassed, and a central focus for our budo.

Soke said that  he intends for our new hombu dojo to become officially a 宗教法人, shukyouhojin, a type of non-profit organization under Japanese law which covers such religio-cutural institutions such as temples and shrines. I wondered why the new hombu would not become a public non-profit organization, a 公益法人 koeki hojin rather than a religious one. So I did some investigation about the implications of becoming a non-profit organization under Japanese law. And what a wealth of information I found.

To my surprise, becoming a public non-profit organization is neither easy nor cheap. The Nonprofit Japan Web Site indicates that the NPO designation was only approved by the National Diet in the 1980s. Only in 1999 did the first non-profit organizations receive the benefits of this designation. And this designation comes with some downsides, too, as indicated by Nonprofit Japan.  In order to receive the designation of 公益法人 koueki houjin it takes years of  preparation and the foundation must put up ¥100 million.  Koueki houjin organizations are overseen by particular government agencies that often place government old boys on the boards. That could be a real turn-off, having outsiders in your organization, and ones that don’t necessarily share your vision or have the best interests of your members in mind.

I clearly heard sensei say the new Hombu would be  宗教法人法, shukyouhojin. Later, I confirmed with two sempais (senior Japanese and local foreigner) that yes, the new hombu would be designated shukyouhoujin, largely because of the advantages for us, and that no, it would not mean we are a religious organization, but the hombu dojo, like other budo organizations, would incorporate a Shinto shrine on the grounds. After some reading about shukyouhoujin I realized that this was the more expedient, economical option of the two which would allow the hombu dojo more autonomy than a public corporation.

On his Henka blog, Doug Wilson provided information that explains why it is important for the Bujinkan to secure a non-profit structure. He explained, and I have gleaned from other sources, that death taxes are immediately levied, somewhere between 30% and 70%, no matter that the person to whom the estate belonged had earned or inherited those assets, and no matter that the person had paid income tax in life. As we know, Hatsumi Sensei has no children whom he could name in his estate. This means that in the future, the Japan tax man would liquidate the estate. 

 Doug says the estate tax rate is around 70%, and I read that deductions could reduce the burden to 30%, still a large chunk.  This JapanInc article from 2006 mentions the public response to MacDonald’s Japan founder Den Fujita’s estate  that was subject to a huge tax bill. It also gives advice on how to plan for inheritance tax.

What does 宗教 shukyou mean, anyway? Well, the first kanji means sect, and the word shukyou is used broadly in the sense of religion. It also happens to be the first kanji in the word  宗家 soke, and the second one in the word for ancestors of the Japanese emperor’s family, 皇宗 kousou. The attitude in Japan towards all things shukyou is really hard to compare with the west, but bears some resemblance. Just like the Judeo-Christian culture of the west, anything shukyou is inextricably intertwined with high and low culture, history, social customs and conventions. However, there is no dogma or doctrine associated with indigenous Japanese shukyou, namely Shinto. There are no holy books, but there are legends and ancient accounts of the 神 kami, the spiritual forbears of the Japanese people and culture. There are no punishments meted out for those who fail to honour Shinto.  For the most part, Shinto is a ritualistic tradition of honouring seasonal festivals, the spirits of people, places and natural objects, and brings communities and families together to remember traditions.

The great treasures of Japan, 神橋 shinkyo, 金閣寺 kinkakuji, 高野山 Mount Koya, are all places steeped in history, culture, esthetic and relgious meaning. They are all shukyou sites preserved for the Japanese and the world. Hatsumi Sensei is planning to add our hombu to this fund of heritage for our buyu, Japanese people in the local and greater community and the world. Sacred.

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