Exile to Echigo


Grade Level: 7, 8, High School

Keywords: Shinran, Jodo Shinshu


  • Students will remember 2 things that made Shinran's exile to Echigo difficult.



  • Make 10lb weights for simulating walking in snow "Snow Walk"
  • Get 2 skateboards and 2 brooms for simulating poling a boat "Crossing the River"
  • Make sufficient copies of the name sheet for all students
  • Choose a route for the walk (Should be at least a 5 minute walk).
  • Set up a course for the "Snow" walk
    • I use a straight line course of one direction in a gym. I also split up the teams into halves.
  • Set up a course for the "Crossing the River"
    • Similar to the Snow Walk. I keep the teams split for this event.


  1. Review or introduce sufficient material to set the stage for Shinran's trip to Echigo
    1. He was no longer a monk; he was now a commoner.
    2. He was given a name: Fujii Yoshizane
    3. He was escorted to Echigo (maybe show map of Japan and possible routes from Kyoto to Echigo).
  2. Form teams. Choose leaders. Have the teams select Team names. Have Leaders write down all the team member names.
  3. "Given a Name"
    1. In this portion, have the students pick a partner (in their team). If the number of people in both team is odd, then have them partner across team. If only one is odd, then you can partner with him/her. Pass the Name sheets out. Have the students choose a "new" name for themselves and write on the top line. Have the students pass the name sheet to their partner. THAT is their new name. Remind them that this is what happened to Shinran at the time when he was assigned the name "Fujii Yoshizano".
    2. Ask a question to each student if they respond correctly, then they get a point for their team. They must respond within 2 seconds. Explain what you are going to do and give a sample.
      1. Types of questions are: "What is your name?", "{new name}, touch your nose", "{old name}, touch you nose/hand/head", "{old name}, touch {some other person old name} shoulder", "{new name}, touch {some other new name} shoulder". The should only undertake the action when called the "new" name.
  4. "Outside Walk"
    1. Walk. The teams are evaluated by the team that finishes completely. In other words, the fastest slowest person.
    2. Optionally, this can be a relay.
    3. The winning team gets 10 points. Other team gets 5 points. (You can scale down the points if the teams are smaller; this is for roughly 10 person teams).
  5. Snow Walk.
    1. This is a relay race with students walking w/ 10 lb weights on their feet and they have to drag their feet (can't pick up feet like in snow).
    2. Have each team designate 2 people to help w/ the changing of the weights
    3. The first pair races the course. If anyone loses their weights, then they must restart.
    4. The changing of the weights from one student to the next in line becomes part of the race.
    5. The first team where everyone complete gets 10 points. Other gets 5 points.
    6. Alternative: You can pair competitors and have them race the course for one point. In this version the changing of the weights is not part of the race.
  6. River Crossing
    1. Similar to the Snow Walk except the students use the broom to push them across a imaginary river/lake.
  7. Declare the point totals and the "winning" team. But remind them about all the events by talking about each one.
  8. Closing Gassho


  • This event is difficult to evaluate since it usually ends outside. If time permits, ask students for their reflection and what event they liked and why. Remind the class that this is what Shinran Shonin might have felt like.


This is a cold weather lesson. It can be done in the summer, but would require more imagination on the students part.

Please remind the parents to dress the students appropriately for this lesson (athletic shoes, jackets).


Mas Nishimura, nish 211 {at} gmail{dot}com, San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin, 2012

Exile to Echigo Materials.pdf