Shundo Aoyama was born in 1933 in Aichi province, whose prefecture is Nagoya, a few hundred kilometers south of Tokyo. Considered by her mother as a gift from the Buddha, she entered the temple of Muryo-ji at the age of five, where she received a religious education. Ordained a nun at the age of fifteen, she trained as a novice at the Aichi Semmon Nissodo Monastery in Nagoya and then completed her higher education at the Buddhist University of Komazawa.
She then began her teaching career, giving lectures and leading sesshin (periods of intensive practice). She also participates in interviews and sesshin with other prominent Zen masters, in particular from Master Kodo Sawaki’s lineage of succession, with whom she shares her understanding and experience.
Very quickly she is recognized as a great Zen master. In 1976, she was appointed Abbess of Aichi Semmon Nissodo – “Novitiate Monastery for the Soto Zen Nuns of Aichi Prefecture” -, a monastery of formation for Zen nuns, founded in 1903 and following the rules of daily life of Dogen Zenji and Keizan Zenji, the founders of Soto Zen in Japan. Since 1984, she has also been responsible for the temples of Seiho-ji and Muryo-ji, and resides sometimes in one, sometimes in the other, personally overseeing the formation of nuns, some of whom became her disciples and received her Dharma transmission.
Expert in the three fundamental Japanese Arts (kado, the way of ornament of flowers, chado, the way of tea, sodo, the way of calligraphy), she teaches them in particular to the laity, which allows her to lend an attentive ear to their personal and family problems.
Although she personally has always lived a traditional Zen nun’s life, she is very sensitive to the difficulties of the women and men of her time. It has also made itself known to the general public and the media (newspapers and television). She is the author of about ten books.