Down-to-Earth Zen: Zen Buddhism in Japanese Manga and Movies

Elisabetta Porcu


This paper analyzes some examples of the interconnections between Zen Buddhism and popular culture, notably manga and movies. In particular, it explores the recent manga Bōzu days (2007–2011) and the movies Fancy Dance (1989) and Abraxas matsuri (2010). In these works, Zen’s everyday and down-to-earth character comes to the fore, while zazen meditation occupies a relatively small place. As amply explored by scholarly works over the last few decades, the former aspect is usually overlooked in Zen presentations in the West while the latter is in line with a view of this religious tradition that has been adapted for its dissemination outside of Japan. My analysis aims to shed light on how aspects of popular culture employ Zen Buddhist features to create commercial products that are meant to reach a wide audience, and how Zen Buddhism is represented in these products.


Zen Buddhism; movies; manga; popular culture

Full Text:




  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2015 Elisabetta Porcu

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

The JGB is indexed in Wikidata, Scopus, ATLA Religion Database, ProQuest, EBSCO, eGranary Digital Library, the DOAJ, and ERIH PLUS. The works published in this journal are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.  ISSN 1527-6457