My Teacher’s House

Shinyu Miyaura and the History of Antaiji in Hyogo According to Muho Noelke
(by Edward Moore)

III – The Money Problem (2)

Edward: At this point, were you having one-to-one discussions with Watanabe?

Muho: Yeah that started at that time. That thing about the fishes in the pond is something he told me directly. But I don’t know if he triggered this whole thing, the “no more takuhatsu” policy.

I could imagine him saying such a thing but, at his time, Antaiji was never really self-sufficient. They lived off the resources they had when they sold Antaiji in Kyoto. They tried selling vegetables in the beginning but never really succeeded at it. They never made a profit but they still had the idea the were living self-sufficiently and said it was successful. I’ve never seen any proof though. If you look at the books keeping of the time, there was no substantial profits made. They actually lost money through farming.

Edward: Were you the most senior person at this time?

Muho: For the first year of this no-takuhatsu thing, I had a senpai. He was the one who had the idea with the cows – which met resistance with the person that was actually responsible – then he came up with the charcoal idea. In the end, he never even built a firepit for the charcoal.

The first guy who was a student of Miyaura donated $2000 towards this charcoal thing. But nothing came of it. In Kutoyama, people were also making charcoal and selling it in Hamasaka or maybe even in Tottori. There was a small boom to burn your own charcoal. After the charcoal thing failed, the first monk left, and then I became first monk.

Edward: And that was his only reason for leaving?

Muho: It was the trigger. There was a lot going on between him and the abbot. This often was the case. The first monk has a lot of responsibility and gets criticised. You’re not only responsible for your personal practice but the whole atmosphere. If the young monks are loose, you need to keep them in shape.

Miyaura would express his dissatisfaction a lot with the first monk. A lot of this criticism wasn’t really justified. He had his own ideas. What I heard from my seniors was that, to earn money, you have to invest money. You cannot earn money if all the machines are broken. My seniors wanted to throw this all out and buy new stuff. Miyaura felt we should just repair things and do our best with the stuff we had.

He wasn’t like Watanabe, who spent $4 million on the place. In the beginning, they bought strange things like this huge winch and metal rope that you could connect to the mountain top, and cut trees to send down here. This rope and the winch cost $100,000. It’s still sitting in the barn. They used it once or twice but realised it was too much work to carry the whole thing up the mountain. It’s a dangerous job and we only need about a dozen trees per year. In the end, the winch was unnecessary.

Miyaura would sometimes say: “If we had that money now!” At the time, they were throwing it away like nothing. The first monk was saying, we don’t have that money now but maybe we should at least buy a new chainsaw, buy a new plough. Then we could earn some money back.
tsu for the temple register.