Muhō Noelke

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Muhō Nölke (ネルケ無方)
Religion Zen Buddhism
School Sōtō
Born (1968-03-01) March 1, 1968 (age 50)
Berlin, West Germany
Senior posting
Title Priest
Religious career
Teacher Miyaura Shinyu

Muhō Nölke (ネルケ無方) (b. March 1, 1968, as Jens Olaf Christian Nölke) [1] is a German-born Zen monk who is presently the abbot of Antai-ji, a Japanese Sōtō Zen temple in Shin'onsen in the Mikata District of Japan's Hyōgo Prefecture. He has translated works of Dōgen and Kōdō Sawaki, and has authored two books in German and several books in Japanese.

At age 16, Muhō was introduced to zazen by one of his high school teachers and soon had the wish to become a Zen monk. To prepare for his stay in Japan, he studied Japanese at the university in Berlin, along with philosophy and physics. During his studies, he spent one year at Kyoto University and learned for the first time about Antai-ji. At age 22, he spent six months there as a lay practitioner.

Three years later, after graduating from university, Muhō was ordained as a Sōtō Zen monk under the abbot Miyaura Shinyu Rōshi. Apart from Antai-ji, he has trained for one year at the Rinzai monastery Tōfuku-ji in Kyoto, and one year at Hosshin-ji in Obama, Fukui.

After obtaining the transmission of dharma (shihō) from his teacher Miyaura Rōshi, Muhō decided to live as a homeless monk in a park in central Osaka, where he led a zazen group in 2001. Six months later, in February 2002, he learned of the sudden death of his teacher and was called back to Antai-ji. He succeeded his teacher as the ninth abbot in the spring of that year. Apart from his responsibilities at Antai-ji, he is also teaching at Chigen-ji, a Sōtō Zen priest seminary in Kyoto prefecture.[2]

Muhō has published numerous books and translations in both Japanese and German. He has also featured in several short films, including documentaries by director Takeshi Kitano and broadcaster Peter Barakan's "Begin Japanology", as well as Werner Penzel's feature film "Zen for Nothing".



  1. ^ "A German Zen Master", Japan Monthly Web Magazine (July 2013)
  2. ^

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