Peace or War: Artworks by Kazuaki Tanahashi. Produced by A World Without Armies, 2019. ISBN:  978-1070562131.  

Artist, calligrapher and peace activist Kazuaki Tanahashi responds to the seemingly continuous threat of war and environmental devastation by daring to envision that a Great Peace can still sweep across the world as a brushstroke that expresses humanity’s true heart. With the understanding that for there to be peace, peace must first possess the imagination of ordinary women and men, his life’s work has cultivated and expressed that imagination, and encouraged others to find ways in their personal lives to do so as well. This extraordinary collection of his paintings is a true testimony to that vision and spirit. They mirror for us what we have been, what we are, and what we can be.

--Peter Levitt, Author of One Hundred Butterflies


Painting Peace: Art in a Time of Global Crisis. Shambhala Publications, April 10, 2018. ISBN 978-1611805437.

“Awakening,” says Kazuaki Tanahashi,  “is to realize the infinite value of each moment of your own life as well as of other beings, then to continue to act accordingly.” This book is the record of a life spent acting accordingly:  Through his prose, poetry, letters, lyrics, and art, Tanahashi provides an inspirational account of a what it’s been like to work for peace and justice, from his childhood in Japan to the present day. Included are fascinating vignettes of the seminal figures who refined his views--among them Daniel Ellsberg, Gary Snyder, Mayumi Oda, and Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido--as well as striking examples of the art he has so famously used to bear witness to the infinite value of life.

Is the human race condemned to destroy itself with its own weapons of mass destruction? Kazuaki Tanahashi’s persuasive answer is no, but to go from a death-driven society to a society that protects life requires re-envisioning the future so that we can learn to live peacefully in the present moment. Using stories, poems and his own calligraphy, Tanahashi’s Painting Peace contributes to that conversion.

— Jim Forest, author of The Root of War is Fear: Thomas Merton's Advice to Peacemakers

This gorgeous book reflects a miraculous life of courage, humor, compassion, and wisdom. It is about peace, art, and a weave of remarkable relationships and endeavors that have shaped my good friend Kaz Tanahashi's life and vision. — Joan Halifax

In Painting Peace Kaz Tanahashi recounts adventures from a lifetime of activism and art. Maker of monumental works of calligraphy that incorporate but far transcend tradition, and founder of international activist organizations like Plutonium Free Future and World Without Armies, Kaz is legendary. With unassuming yet indomitable energy, he has used his imagination to confront global problems like disarmament and climate change. His simple, clear, positive, non-hectoring tone ( no doubt a result of his lifetime study and groundbreaking translations of Zen Master Dogen) will give you the feeling that a Ten Millennium Human Future is possible if only we will roll up our sleeves and get to work manifesting our vision of a peaceful world.This book could not have come at a better time. 

— Norman Fischer, poet and Zen priest, author of What Is Zen?Plain Talk for a Beginner’s Mind

Inspiring, fascinating, tenacious and creative, these stories from Kaz’s life as an artist, scholar, and activist, offer the reader so many ways to enter the sphere of compassionate social responsibility. It’s as if Kaz is sitting with the reader, coaching us to experience the potential and joy of creative problem solving in the world of peace and environmental activism. There are brushes built, panels convened, operas composed, songs and poems written. Reading this is like taking a long--a life-long--pilgrimage with a wise compassionate man, an artist who drinks in the joys and sorrows of the world. — Pat Enkyo O’Hara, author of Most Intimate: A Zen Approach to Life’s Challenges


Heart of the Brush: The Splendor of East Asian Calligraphy.  Link to a tutorial video. Boulder, Colorado: Shambhala Publications, 2016. ISBN 978-1-61180-134-7.

There are several books on how to do East Asian calligraphy, including a small one that I wrote myself, but Heart of the Brush by Kazuaki Tanahashi is clearly the best.  His explanations are clear and lively, his multitude of brushwork examples are thorough and generous, and he demonstrates how to do each character stroke by stroke. —Stephen Addiss



Zen Chants: Thirty-Five Essential Texts with Commentary.  Link to free audio files. Boston and London: Shambhala Publications, 2015. ISBN 978-1-61180-143-9.

Here is a concise guide to Zen chants for practitioners, as well as for anyone who appreciates the beauty and profundity of the poetry in dharma. An introduction to the practice is followed by fresh and carefully considered translations and adaptations of thirty-five chants—some common and others less well known—along with illuminating commentary.


Heart Sutra: A Comprehensive Guide to the Classic of Mahayana Buddhism.  Boston and London: Shambhala Publications, 2014.  ISBN 978-1-61180-096-8.

For all who love the Dharma, Kaz’s study of the Heart Sutra is a true boon – it serves us as introduction, history, toolbox, and treasure chest of teachings. It reads as a love story, a detective story, and yet it is a stunning scholarly resource. As inspiration, as reference, as deep study, this work is unsurpassable!”—Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara.


The Essential Dogen: Writings of the Great Zen Master.  Edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi and Peter Levitt 1 vol. Ed. Boston and London: Shambhala Publications, 2013.  ISBN 978-1-61180-041-8


Sky Above, Great Wind: The Life and Poetry of Zen Master Ryokan Boston and London: Shambhala Publications, 2012.  ISBN 978-1-59030-982-7

Ryokan (1758–1831) is, along with Dogen and Hakuin, one of the three giants of Zen in Japan. But unlike his two renowned colleagues, Ryokan was a societal dropout, living mostly as a hermit and a beggar. He was never head of a monastery or temple. He liked playing with children. He had no dharma heir. Even so, people recognized the depth of his realization, and he was sought out by people of all walks of life for the teaching to be experienced in just being around him. His poetry and art were wildly popular even in his lifetime. He is now regarded as one of the greatest poets of the Edo Period, along with Basho, Buson, and Issa. He was also a master artist-calligrapher with a very distinctive style, due mostly to his unique and irrepressible spirit, but also because he was so poor he didn’t usually have materials: his distinctive thin line was due to the fact that he often used twigs rather than the brushes he couldn’t afford. He was said to practice his brushwork with his fingers in the air when he didn’t have any paper. There are hilarious stories about how people tried to trick him into doing art for them, and about how he frustrated their attempts. As an old man, he fell in love with a young Zen nun who also became his student. His affection for her colors the mature poems of his late period. This collection contains more than 140 of Ryokan’s poems, with selections of his art, and of the very funny anecdotes about him.


Circles: Zen Kalligraphie von Kazuaki Tanahashi by Sherry Chayat (text in German) Frankfurt, Germany. Enso-Verlag, 2011.  ISBN 978-3-9813504-2-5


Treasury of the True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen’s Shobo Genzo 1 vol. Ed. Boston and London: Shambhala Publications, 2012.  ISBN 978-1-59030-935-3

Treasury of the True Dharma Eye (Shobo Genzo, in Japanese) is a monumental work, considered to be one of the profoundest expressions of Zen wisdom ever put on paper, and also the most outstanding literary and philosophical work of Japan. It is a collection of essays by Eihei Dogen (1200–1253), founder of Zen’s Soto school.

Kazuaki Tanahashi and a team of translators that represent a Who’s Who of American Zen have produced a translation of the great work that combines accuracy with a deep understanding of Dogen’s voice and literary gifts. This volume includes a wealth of materials to aid understanding, including maps, lineage charts, a bibliography, and an exhaustive glossary of names and terms—and, as a bonus, the most renowned of all Dogen’s essays, “Recommending Zazen to All People.”’s+Shobo+Genzo


Treasury of the True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen’s Shobo Genzo 2 vol. Ed. Boston and London: Shambhala Publications, 2011.  ISBN 978-1-59030-474-7


Lotus with Allan Baillie, photography. Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2006. $14.15  ISBN 0-86171-277-3

 “The lotus is a magnificent paradox. Its leaves and flowers grow in the mud and murky water, yet they are unstained. It is associated with both heat and cool, chaos and order, the sun and the moon, even life and death.”

—from the Introduction


Tao Te Ching: A New Translation  Calligraphy. Translated by Sam Hamill. Boston & London, Shambhala, 2006. $18.95  ISBN 1-59030-011-4

 “Accompanying Sam Hamill’s translation are seventeen Chinese characters brushed by one of the great masters of calligraphy, Kazuaki Tanahashi. Hamill provides a comment for each character, giving the reader a fuller sense of the richness of the original text and insight into the process of translation itself.”

—from the front sleeve


The True Dharma Eye: Zen Master Dogen’s Three Hundred Koans Translation with Daido Loori. With commentary and verse by John Daido Loori. Boston & London, Shambhala Publications, 2006. $39.95  ISBN 1-59030-242-7

Loori Roshi’s addition of new commentaries, more than seven and a half centuries after the selection of these three hundred koans, is extraordinary. In addition, the creation of a formal Zen text by a Western Zen teacher is unique. Loori Roshi has presented a number of these cases with commentaries in his weekly dharma discourses at Zen Mountain Monastery. I am honored to be part of the team creating the book that embodies the authenticity of Dogen and the elucidation of the Zen teaching, made accessible to contemporary Western Zen practitioners.

—from Translator’s Note’s+Three+Hundred+Koans


A Flock of Fools: Ancient Buddhist Tales of Wisdom and Laughter from The One Hundred Parable Sutra. Translated and retold with Peter Levitt. New York: Grove Press, 2004. $15.  ISBN 0-8021-4133

German Version: Narren: alte Buddhistische Geschichten Voller Weisheit Und Ironie Aus Dem Einhundert Parabel Sutra. Frankfult: Enso-Verlag, 2001.  ISBN 978-3-9813504-1-8

“I believe the One Hundred Parable Sutra is the most humorous sutra in the entire Buddhist canon.”- Kaz


Beyond Thinking: A Guide to Zen Meditation: Zen Master Dogen Boston & London: Shambhala Publications, 2004. $14.95.  ISBN 1-59030-024-6.

 “For this book we have selected Master Dogen's essays, talks, and instructions that touch upon various aspects of Zen meditation. We present the text in four parts: ‘Entering Zazen,’ ‘Zazen Experience,’ ‘Zazen in Community,' and ‘Zazen through the Seasons.’”- Kaz


Miracles of the Moment: A journal with the circles and words of Kazuaki Tanahashi.  Mill Valley, CA: Brush Dance, 2001. $15.95.  ISBN 189173183-1

Out of Print


Enlightenment Unfolds: The Essential Teachings of Zen Master Dogen  Edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi. Translated from medieval Japanese and Chinese. Boston and London: Shambhala Publications, 1999. Paperback, $17.95.  ISBN 1-57062-305-8

 “A profound thinker and imaginative writer of medieval Japan, the monk Dogen remains an extraordinary source of inspiration for readers of our time... We hope the text in this book illustrates Dogen as a whole person – not only as a seeker, traveler, teacher, and priest who brought Zen from China to Japan, but as a poet, thinker, scholar, administrator, and woodcarver.”

–from the Preface


Essential Zen Edited with David Schneider. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1994. [Also published in Dutch, Italian, Polish, Spanish.] paperback, $12.                          ISBN 0-06-251046-0

“Stories remain in our consciousness, often unnoticed, as points of reference for understanding elements of life. However weird or enigmatic they are, or perhaps because of those very qualities, Zen stories have touched the hearts of people for over a thousand years.”

–from the Preface


Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen  Edited and translated from medieval Japanese and Chinese. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1985; New York: Farrar, Straus & Geroux, 1995. $16  ISBN 0-86547-186-X

 “Dogen is unique both as a thinker and a Buddhist teacher. Like his predecessors, he presents paradoxical statements; but unlike them, he makes continuous and systematic efforts to verbalize the process of his thinking. He demonstrates the extraordinary quality of intuitive logic in Zen tradition.”

–from the Introduction


Audio cassettes: The Teaching of Zen Master Dogen: Selections from Moon in a Dewdrop, edited by Kazuaki Tanahashi. Chosen and read by Gary Snyder. Berkeley, California: Audio Literature, 1992. $15.95 ISBN 0-944953-47-8

 “Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water. The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken. Although its light is wide and great, the moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide. The whole moon and the entire sky are reflected in dewdrops on the grass, or even in one drop of water. Enlightenment does not divide you, just as the moon does not break the water. You cannot hinder enlightenment, just as a drop of water does not hinder the moon in the sky. The depth of the drop is the height of the moon. Each reflection, however long or short its duration, manifests the vastness of the dewdrop, and realizes the limitlessness of the moonlight in the sky.”



Penetrating Laughter: Hakuin’s Zen and Art  Kazuaki Tanahashi, New York: The Overlook Press, 1984. (out of print) [Also published in French and Japanese]

Out of Print

 “The vigor of Hakuin’s artistic expression arises from his practice of Zen meditation. Coarse, humorous, laced with folk motifs, the painting and calligraphy of this eighteenth-century Japanese monk yet seems to present something vast; when I think of greatness in art, my mind goes to Hakuin.”

–from the Introduction’s+Zen+and+Art


Enku: Sculptor of a Hundred Thousand Buddhas  Boston and London: Shambhala Publications, 1982.

 Out of Print

“Enku (1632-1695) was an extraordinary monk. The rough and direct quality of his wooden sculptures arose from the speed of his chisel strokes and his compulsion to carve an enormous quality of images. He completed 100,000 pieces of sculpture in his lifetime, a fact which by itself distinguishes him among sculptors. These sometimes smiling, sometimes fierce figures of deities were worshipped by the common people of his time; even today people attribute spiritual powers to them.”

–from the Introduction


Aikido, Ueshiba, Kisshomaru  Under the direction of Morihei Ueshiba. Translated with Roy Maurer, Jr. Tokyo: Hozansha, 1962.

Out of Print

“True budo (art of warriorship) is the loving protection of all beings with a spirit of reconciliation. Reconciliation means to allow the completion of everyone’s mission.”

–Morihei Ueshiba


Painting Peace: Art and Life of Kazuaki Tanahashi.
Film by Babeth Van Loo. 2014. 90 minutes. Streaming:; DVD, $20; Blue-ray, $25:

Reflection and Remorse: Sino-Japanese War. Film by JR Sheetz. 2008. 6 minutes. Click Here:

Dear Los Alamos Worker. Film by Martijn Robert. 2015. 7 minutes. Click Here:

Brush Tango/Ranbow Waltz. With Aenea Mizukima Keys and Music a Eterna. Produced by Karuna Tanahashi. DVD, $15:

Imagining Peace: Peace poems by Kazuaki Tanahashi, set to music and performed by West Coast composers. CD, $15: