Japanese Corporate Zen
In the popular Western mind, contemporary Japanese Zen is characterized by austere yet beautiful Zen gardens, and monks with shaven heads seated serenely in meditation. Various television programs have also popularized the idea that monks spend a good deal of their time studying either karate or another form of the martial arts. However, contemporary Japanese Zen is also characterized by the growing number of Zen temples in the countryside which, due to a decrease in rural population, either have no permanent resident priest or only a nichiyobiJzu, a priest who holds a secular job as a school teacher or clerical worker during the week and only functions as a priest on Sundays. Moreover, many urban Zen priests have utilized their temple lands to build highly profitable condominiums, supermarkets, parking lots, kindergartens, and the like.