Katja Bratseth from Denmark
Katja is a Norwegian anthropologist. When she was a master student at the Arhus University in Denmark, she visited Konohana Family for her master’s thesis research from early autumn to the end of the year in 2012 for three and half months with her 3.5- year-old daughter. She faced different matters and values every day, but yet she was always open and objective to grasp those, and she proceeded her research by simply asking questions if she did not understand. This thesis, “Make a Place – Dwell in Time ~ Spiritual Environmentalism in a Japanese~” is the result of that study. She was asked to exhibit her study at the Moesgard Museum in Denmark from October 2014 to March 2015.
Katja’s Interview to Konohana Members
1 Chinappi; Why did she join in the founding of Konohana Family?
When Konohana Family was founded, she was 20 years old. Taking a look back over her life, she realized that she did everything she wanted to do and led a very unique and grateful life. Since all her dreams has manifested better than she expected, she wondered why and wanted to know the answer. Then, she met Isadon, the founder of Konohana Family and asked him. He said, “People have virtues, so do you. However, unless you accumulate virtues, they will be gone. It is important to keep accumulating virtues in our lives.” And he continued, “I am going to live a life in return. In order to do so, I am going to the foot of Mt. Fuji and create the village of Bodhisattva where people help and get along with each other. That is a place where people are going to make a genuine food and explore a genuine way of life.” When she heard of this, she thought what a wonderful idea! Looking back on her life, she realized that she didn’t live on her own because she felt she has been supported by so many things around her. Then, she said to Isadon, “I want to live a life in return, too. Please take me to Mt. fuji together.” and she joined in the founding of Konohana Family.
Why does she continue to live in Konohana Family?
That is because she strongly believes that this way of life is significant for all human beings, earth and the universe. The further she takes this path, the stronger her commitment becomes. Also, she has received the role to spread the spirituality that Konohana Family values over the whole universe by singing songs. She appreciates this amazing community life from the bottom of her heart, so she can’t thank God enough.
2 Kochan; Why is ecological farming important to him?
First of all, he doesn’t feel only ecological farming is important for him. Considering how the universe was created and what kind of existence we are, farming will become ecological naturally and human relationships will become harmonious without wars or conflicts, and the world will become full of love and goodwill instead of malice. These things will come of themselves. Based on such spirituality, if he expresses himself through farming, it is certain that he respects all the lives. Some call it ecological farming and some call it eco-friendly lifestyle, so there are various ways to look at it. However, the most important thing is to realize what kind of existence we are and how this universe has been operated. If everyone shares this concept, we don’t have to argue which farming method is right or wrong and will graduate from the world where people make conflicts out of their differences. Instead, we will create the world where people accept our differences as unique characters and support and connect each other. All the lives are connected and there is no boundary among all the elements including the galaxy, the solar system, the sun, earth, human lives, air, water, rice, vegetables, insects, microorganisms and so on. With such a point of view, there would be no enemies and everything would be our own life. If everyone has such a heart, that will have a drastic power to change the structure of farming, society, human relationships. Every single person has such a heart originally, so anyone can express such love. If farmers express such a heart, their farming would be ecological naturally. If doctors do that, they would offer holistic approach to tell people how to live a daily life and what mental status is important to avoid diseases, not just curing patients’ sicknesses. Therefore, Konohana Family can offer important messages in any field other than farming, such as medical care, food, economy, the way of life. That is because although everything is connected and is based on love, goodwill and harmony in this world originally, the current society is not like that. Therefore, this way of life conveys important messages for every field.
3 Junji; Why is ecological farming important to him?
That is because everything we have done will come back to ourselves and the whole earth. He believes ecological farming is important to live in beauty and harmony with nature. Also, it is very useful to enhance the spirituality by observing and communicating with nature. We can learn a lot from our daily life. With ecological farming, he would like to protect and maintain the beautiful earth.
4 Mikako; What does the music, made in Konohana, tell about her community?
The music made in Konohana expresses the spirituality Konohana Family values and their world view.
The songs convey the following messages;
1, the will of the Great Spirit has created this world and we were born to learn the system of this world which is the circulation of life in the phenomenal world.
2, Originally, human beings are not like cancer cells for earth, but they have precious roles and are in the process to get aware of that.
3, If everyone tries to improve and enhance his/her spirituality, peace will prevail on earth.
4, our consciousness creates this world.
Why did she choose to live in Konohana?
She didn’t mean to come to Konohana to become a member with her own will in the first place. She received the message, “it will be a new life on earth for all human beings to help and support each other”, but when she actually met Konohana family, her ego was too strong to live in the community. First, she reacted in a negative way to improving spirituality that Konohana Family values and tried to take a different path, cutting the relationship with them. However, some years later, her life faced a dead end completely and that reminded her of Konohana Family. She thought it would be only Isadon that can save her situation and went to him to get advice. Then, she got reconnected with Konohana Family and became a member naturally.
Considering the nature of these events, she believes that she made a promise to live in Konohana Family before she was born. Although she tried to leave her promised land due to her strong ego, the divine worked to put her back to the original path. Therefore, she was able to come back to Konohana Family by the divine will.
In short, Konohana Family is her promised land. However, she forgot about it totally, so the divine has guided her and now here she is.
5 Hitomi ; How is it, for her, to be a mother in Konohana Family?
She feels very happy to be a mother in Konohana Family because there is no worry or stress that ordinary mothers have in the society. She is not married, but she has never felt worried about money, her son’s future, nor busy between household chores and her work. Konohana Family is one big family beyond blood relationships. Therefore, we consider all the children our own children and raise them as the children of the society. Everyone is a father and a mother. All the children grow up, receiving full of love and care not only from their biological parents but also from many adult members. She raises other children other than her son and they feel she is like their real mother. This makes her heart broader. We consider children as the mirror of parents here. Therefore, it is not like parents raise children, but children raise parents. Since children live in the further future than parents, their souls are more advanced than parents’ ones. She has learned a lot from children’s marvelous and pure viewpoints, living with them together.
Why did she choose to live in Konohana?
That is because Konohana Family is her ideal world itself that she has imagined in her heart for a long time. Therefore, she decided to live in Konohana after 4 hour stay. That was her inspiration. It has been 6 years since she became a member and she is going to continue to live this life with her strong commitment. Konohana Family is not a place to just practice ecological lifestyle, but a place where those who try to change the society and earth got together, by improving their own spirituality. Since when she was a child, she has questioned about the way of family and the society. Although she talked with her parents, brother and friends, she couldn’t find a solution and nobody listened to her seriously.
Konohana Family is a community where those who seek the heart of Buddha to live for the society and people have got together. In order to do live like that, first it is necessary to make our heart right and beautiful. She was very eager to do so from her soul and she finally found the place where she can practice it. In short, her soul planned to live and learn here before she was born on earth.
6 Hirocchi; How does he think Shinto is linked to Konohana Family?
The group of Shinto his family belongs to is “Ohmoto (meaning Great Source).” The worldview he has learned from it is; this world itself is the figure of God. We humans are divided spirits of God. And God created this world to improve and enhance himself and his own children’s spirits. This teaching is not for just one religious group called Ohmoto, but the truth of this universe. The worldview of Konohana Family is based on the cosmic truth, too. Therefore, both Shinto and Konohana Family were created in this world, based on the will of God. They just have different roles to move forward to the same direction.
How does he see Shintoism and the spirituality in Konohana?
As he explained, both Shinto and Konohana Family have the same worldview. However, he sees big differences in daily activities since they were given different roles.
Shinto is religion, so its biggest role is to offer rituals and ceremonies daily. If he thinks how hard they put the will of God into their daily practice, he feels doubtful about that because they focus on offering rituals and put off improving their spirituality. On the other hand, Konohana Family values rituals, but the most important thing for Konohana is to keep improving our body and spirituality all the time through our daily life. He feels Konohana member’s commitment to value practice and try to manifest the will of God in daily life is much stronger than religious people.
How does he feel about carpentering?
The base of Konohana Family’s lifestyle is farming, but the same spirituality is expressed in farming, carpentering, and other roles and positions. Whatever we do, it would be to support the whole community. To support the whole community means to live for the society and people. He is sure that he can contribute to this community the most in the carpentering field with his career and skills. Of course, he does love that. He appreciates the great environment where he is able to enjoy his work purely for the society and people, not as the means just to make money to live.
How does he feel about leading the shinto rituals?
Rituals would be totally different, depending of what spirituality people offer rituals with, even if the form of rituals looks the same. Therefore, first it is important to live a daily life seriously with God. Then, when he leads the rituals, these will show the genuine will of God. In that meaning, the Shinto rituals offered here are not dead letters, but genuine ones and show the way it should always be.
Originally, Konohana family had no specific connection with Shinto. However, Shinto rituals have been offered since the person (Hirocchi) who was born and grew up in the Shinto environment met Konohana Family by the will of God. This is the meeting and flow by the system of God. Therefore, he believes it is very appropriate to offer Shinto rituals here in Konohana Family and that makes perfect sense.
Does he like manga? If so, what kind of manga?
It is not like he likes manga particularly. However, there is one manga that he still likes. The title is “Bagabondo.” The story is about a very famous samurai called Musashi MIiyamoto, who lived in the beginning of Edo period. The message is, through his way of living, to get over human ego, feel the universal law, and live in the flow of the universe. If Konohana members are lay followers, he feels something in common in that manga where Musashi Yamamoto was trying to master martial arts and was about to enter the world of enlightenment in that process.
7 Ayachan; Why did she choose to draw Konohana Family as a place in the future, where gods and humans live together?
Even now, we humans do live with gods together here in Konohana Family. She believes it is very important to feel the will of gods and express it. And she is sure that people all over the world will pay attention to and practice this way of life in the future. She believes each member of Konohana Family will grow up spiritually and the life with gods will be more fulfilling from now on. She drew Konohana Family as a place where gods and humans live together, considering the Konohana lifestyle will be more significant in the future.