Yoshizen's Blog

Bodhi-Tree / Bodai-ju

You believe or not, this is the tree what Japanese believes as the Boddhi-Tree.

My parents believed and explained to me, “This is the tree which Buddha said to have enlightened while sitting under this tree.  Therefore it got the name BODAI-Ju.   Since, a flower blooms as if it is standing in a palm.”

Yes, it looks uniquely strange flower.   So, I believed its story.  Anyhow, I was a small boy —– no argument 🙂


Not only a boy, everybody in Japan believed that this is the Boddhi Tree,  hence a  German song composed by Franz Schubert  about this particular tree and its title  [Der Lindenbaum]  was translated into Japanese as [ BODAI-Ju ] — of cause, in this case, the tree was a tree known as a Lime tree in the west.

—– (Strangely, this [Bodai-ju] has another name which has Ainu tribe origin [Shina-no-ki] and from its shape of the false leaf under a flower, the another name was [Hera-no-ki] —– so, the name [Bodai-ju] was only after the time when Japanese got Buddhism)


When the Buddhism was brought to Japan,  the India [Tenjiku] was in the another planet, even to the Chinese monks who travelled over there and studied Buddhism, it was a distance needed to take years of journey.

Hence, to read the scriptures was just a guess work,  let alone to distinguish what was the historical truth or even chronological order among the jumbled scriptures.

Therefore, to have mistaken Lime tree as to the Boddhi tree was not a big crime   🙂

(I haven’t found what Chinese people were understanding about Boddhi Tree, yet.    So, any Chinese reader who knows about it,  please leave a comment herein after)

In comparison,  we now can have amazing amount of informations and even a photo of a real Boddhi Tree ( Ficus religiosa )  while sitting in a room thousands of miles away from India —– still, we are not sure, 

whether we are any wiser than a monk thousand years ago. —– yet still, the reason why we can get the same understanding of the teachings is, Buddhism is not based on the knowledges but on its practice.    Like riding a bicycle —– no one can explain how to ride it, but by the practice you can get to know how by yourself.

( So,  there is no problem whether it was [Boddhi tree] or [Bodai-ju] to get enlightenment  😀 )




2 Responses

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  1. Yan said, on August 24, 2016 at 21:26

    Very interesting, the Chinese translation of Franz Schubert’s “der Lindenbaum” has also been 菩提树 (bodhi-tree) for a century. I’ve been searching for the reason of this misinterpretation, I tend to believe that the Chinese copied this translation originally from the Japanese. However, I must say that this mistake is a beautiful one 🙂

    • yoshizen said, on August 24, 2016 at 21:47

      Thank you Yan. It’s a good observation.
      Still, the question remain —– How or what the Chinese call the tree
      (Pepal Tree in India) related to Buddha’s enlightenment story ?

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