Episode 457 – The Purple Robe Incident

This week: political infighting about purple robes and what it can tell us about Buddhism, political power, and the relationship of religion and the state. Plus, a brief biography of Takuan, a man who is famous for far more than the pickled radishes named after him!


Williams, Duncan. “The Purple Robe Incident and the Formation of the Early Modern Soto Zen Institution.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 36, No 1 (2009).

Haskel, Peter. Sword of Zen: Master Takuan and His Wrigins on Immovable Wisdom and the Sword Taie

Hur, Nam-lin. Death and the Social Order in Tokugawa Japan: Buddhism, Anti-Christianity, and the Danka System. 


The modern day Zen thinker Jakucho Setouchi; this photo gives you a pretty clear idea of what the purple robes look like.
Suden, who drafted the rules of the shogunate governing the various Buddhist sects (including Rinzai). Suden himself was actually a Rinzai monk by training, so one imagines Takuan telling him he didn’t get how Zen worked was…hurtful, to say the least.
A painting of Takuan from the early Edo period.
Myoshinji, the temple where Takuan served as abbot until his exile.