Japanese Youtube Recommendation: Taigu Osho (talks from a Buddhist Priest)

By | December 7, 2023

As part of my continuing education in Japanese I’m always on the lookout for good content in Japanese that is interesting, educational, or both. While watching videos is fun, in terms of budgeting my time I find I have many more opportunities to experience content going on a walk or driving, so I tend to focus on either Podcasts or YouTube channels where the video portion is secondary.

For the last few months I have been searching through YouTube using some Japanese philosophers and martial artists names, and I think it might have been those things that eventually led me to the channel of a Buddhist Priest by the name of Taigu Osho, written as 大愚和尚. The English title of the channel is “Osho Taigu’s Heart of Buddha”.

大愚和尚 literally means something along the lines of “Extremely Stupid Buddhist Priest”, which gives a strong sense of humility (apparently an important aspect of Buddhism). The priest’s name is “Taigu Genshou”, which is written as  大愚元勝 where the second two characters (making up his first name) interestingly come from the characters for “origin” and “win”. (Note: 元勝 seems to be more commonly read as “motokatsu”).

Taigu Osho typically does videos where he answers questions from everyday people, called 一問一答 (ichimon ittou) that translates to “Question & Answer”. These range from problems with relationships to career advice, and various other things. 

I think one of the main things that attracted me to his talks is his calm, peaceful way of speaking that really sounds like what I would expect a priest to sound like. While I assume he does some preparation before each recording, he seems very skilled at speaking, and the pauses he gives here and there are, to me, indicators that he is speaking from the heart without any specific script in mind.

In a sense I guess you can compare his talks to sermons from other religions, and while he does often make references to aspects of Buddhism, overall I feel like his advice is often very down-to-earth and doesn’t require belief in Buddhism to understand or follow. At times his suggestions seem even obvious, and at others there’s an interesting take I hadn’t thought of––but it’s great to hear discussions about so many everyday things in Japanese like this, and you are likely to come across many words that aren’t commonly used in popular media like anime or manga. It’s also good to know he speaks typical Tokyo dialect for those of you who are trying to learn accurate intonation for that dialect.

Doing some more research about Taigu Osho, I discovered he has a bunch of books available in Japanese, and also over half a million followers on YouTube, not to mention a total of over 900 videos. 

I’ve listened to motivational speakers in Japanese and they tend to be on the over-dramatic side, using aggressive techniques to try and persuade you. But Taigu Osho’s style is much different, more natural, and is much easier for me to listen to again and again. His books seem a bit more marketed and potentially closer to popular motivational speakers’ books, but I still may try one someday to see what they are like. One thing that is for sure is such self-help books are generally pretty easy to read since they are written for a wide audience.

I don’t consider myself a Buddhist, though I do have an interest in Buddhism. Regardless of what you believe in, Buddhism is an  important part of Japanese culture and language, and I feel like these talks really enrich my knowledge in those areas.

Here is one of his talks that is about a relatively easy-to-understand subject to get you started. If you find one to be particularly enjoyable or educational, please let me know. I’ve listened to a bunch but I doubt I’ll ever be able to get to them all.

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