Shinran Challenge

Grade Level: 7, 8, High School, Young Adult, Adult

Keywords: Shinran Shonin, Team, Tendai, Japanese Buddhism


  • To experience some of the aspects of Medieval Japanese Buddhist practices.
  • To experience some aspects of Shinran's life at Mt. Hiei


  • Written Directions Sheet shinran-challenge.pdf
  • Scoresheet scoresheet.pdf
  • Lapcard (for Amida Doso event) lapcard.pdf
  • Station Signs (for Amida Doso event and the Okayu Relay event) station_signs.pdf
  • Awards award.pdf
  • Paper bowls (for the Okayu Relay event)
  • Okayu (prepare ahead of time and bring back to room temperature)
  • Serving ladles (make sure that they are the same size)
  • Large buckets
  • Towels (paper or othersize)
  • Mop & bucket (for cleaning spills)


  • Decide on number of students per team. I usually try to have 4 or 5 teams from 20 students.
  • Print out sufficient Directions Sheet & Score sheets for each team.
  • Prepare the area that you are going to use (gym) for the events.
    • Station Signs on chairs or wall for the Okayu and Doso events
    • Seats for the eating area, tables for the paper bowls and the okayu serving station
  • Prepare buckets of water 1 or 2 bucket per 4 students


This is a lesson presented as a competitive activity similar to the show Survivor (which was popular when this lesson was created). Most of the instructions are written on the Written Directions sheet.

  1. Opening Gassho
  2. Welcome and instructions
  3. Events
    1. Zazen
    2. Okayu Relay
    3. Mizu Shugyo
    4. Amida Doso
  4. "Awards" Ceremony
  5. Closing Gassho


  • During the Awards Ceremony, review the events that they have endured and how Shinran Shonin must have endured that and more.


  • I always announce that the winning team will get a prize. But the whole point is to survive, so I always give everyone an certificate.
  • This takes a LOT of people to stage and do.
  • Make sure that the servers for the Okayu event gives roughly the same amount to each student.
  • Here is a recipe for Okayu (if you do not have one handy)
  1. Soak 1/2 cup rice in 3 cups water for 30 minutes
  2. Bring to boil over medium heat
  3. Turn heat to low and simmer 30 minutes
  4. Add pinch of salt before serving. This makes 2 servings (1 cup) of Okayu

Traditionally, pickled plum, scallions, tsukudane are served on the side, but for the event, please do not add anything.


Mas Nishimura, San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin, 2007