Join us for a unique experience in the free pilot phase of the ZenIT project!
Our main focus will be for each person to find their own answer to “What is Zen(IT)?”, in other words a Zen-like way of doing software development leading to inner peace and happiness, as well as high productivity.
In the process, we will be learning and using the Silicon Valley cutting-edge Extreme Programming style to write open source software and will also be going to temples in Eiheiji town (such as 永平寺) for authentic Zen practice and meditation. What we’re actually going to build will depend on who shows up!
A sample week may look like the below. Note that this schedule is very flexible and will be adjusted to fit the goals of the participants.
Writing code in ZenIT style (4-5 hours per day)
Meetings (1-2 hours per day)
Meditation (1 hour per day)
Physical activities, such as cleaning, snow shoveling, Yoga, Martial Arts, etc. (1 hour per day)
Visiting/staying at Zen temples to experience Zen lifestyle and meditation with monks
Weekends / evenings (flexible, free time)
Enjoying cultural immersion with local Japanese people (festivals, hiking, skiing, hot springs, dinner, sightseeing, etc.)
Teaching programming to Japanese kids (9/23 event) and young adults (10/6)
The timeframe is very flexible. Ideally, we would like to have people who can commit to 1-3 months, but shorter commitments are also possible (e.g. 1 day). The free pilot program is available December 3rd, 2018 ~ February 15th, 2019 (date was originally March 31st, 2019).
Note that there may be times when you are the only participant coming, as people will be rolling in and out.
We will work primarily out of Eiheiji town, located in the Fukui region, which is ranked number one for happiness in Japan (source). Eiheiji is engulfed in nature (forests, rivers, mountains, rice fields), extremely safe and clean, has delicious food from local farms, and has preserved many treasures of the Japanese culture.
The town also houses Eiheiji Temple, a 750-year-old landmark and the worldwide headquarters for the Soto Zen lineage of over 15,000 sub-temples.
What you’ll learn
Authentic Zen principles and meditation - the focus is on sitting in meditation and learning about yourself. We may also be able to arrange dharma talks with Zen monks.
Cutting-edge Extreme Programming techniques from Silicon Valley, such as pair programming, test-driven development, retrospective meeting, continuous feedback, no deadlines, etc. + how fun coding is!
Traditional Japanese culture (tatami room, happy town lifestyle, food, etc.) and language
How to survive in the snow... brrrr!
Anything else you want to know!
Support from ZenIT team and Eiheiji town citizens for most concerns (sightseeing, food, transportation, etc.)
Very flexible, with everyone’s learning, health, and happiness being the top priorities!
Free homestay / shared lodging in Eiheiji town in a huge traditional Japanese house
Requirements to participate
Desire to learn something, be happy, be healthy, and do something good for society!
Interest in mindfulness, meditation, and Zen
English fluency (written and verbal)
Software development experience of at least 2 years (ideally 5+ years)
Japanese language ability / cultural interest
Interest in immersive meditation training at Zen temples in the cold winter
Interest in learning Martial Arts, Yoga, and/or Tai Chi
Interest to research and write papers / blog posts on ZenIT
If you don't meet all the requirements, still feel free to contact us! We will do our best to include you.
You can apply here: ZenIT Pilot Program Application
Feel free to contact Pilot@ZenIT.jp for any questions!
＊Please avoid sending attachments/images in your initial email.
I have questions about Eiheiji and Zazen practice.
Please see the Daihonzan Eiheiji FAQ.
What happens in case of an accident?
Although the ZenIT team will put utmost effort in securing the safety of participants, the team cannot accept liability for accidents.
The Eiheiji fire department and university hospitals are also located within 15 minutes drive to the shared lodging and program space.
Is the homestay / shared lodging safe?
Eiheiji town is one of the safest regions in the world, so there is virtually no risk of theft or violent crime. All applicants looking to stay in the shared lodging will be screened.
What is the layout of the shared lodging?
The house is huge and is located very close to the Kuzuryu River. It has 3 floors and an elevator. The ZenIT team will have access to 4 bedrooms and 2-3 shared bathrooms. If the number of participants exceeds 4, we may request for 2 people to share a room, with a person of the same gender. All rooms are equipped with a door lock.
What is the code of conduct?
All participants are expected to hold themselves with the utmost respect for all living beings, including plants and animals. Theft, violence, discrimination, and harassment are grounds for immediate expulsion from the program.
We have adopted the guidelines of the San Francisco Zen Center Ethical Principles.
What about food?
Food and clean water are essential to life. During the program, you can expect to always have access to excellent Japanese food.
Eiheiji is a farming town, with an abundance of organic vegetables and rice, along with some of the cleanest water in Japan and fresh fish from the largest river in Fukui, Kuzuryu River, which runs directly through the town.
We will also make accommodations for participants with food allergies/sensitivities. Gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan diets can easily be accommodated.
What about the software we write?
During the program, the focus will be more on the learning and happiness of the participants, as well as the way in which we work. However, we will need to build something!
Given the social good nature of the ZenIT project, we are expecting for all software written to be open sourced and fundamentally beneficial to society. However, it is possible to work on a paid project from your company in the ZenIT style (pair work / meditation); please contact for more details.
The projects we will work on will be decided depending on the participants who show up and we are very open to helping work on one of your existing open source projects!
There is no requirement for participants to perform future maintenance on the code we write together and we are very happy to help you showcase the projects on your resume.
What software skills can I expect to learn?
Because of the pair programming environment, you can expect to learn a tremendous amount of technical, social, and work style skills from the ZenIT core team and other participants as you work together.
ZenIT founder, Amil Khanzada graduated from UC Berkeley in Computer Science with grades in the top 10% of the class and has 8 years of paid Silicon Valley software industry experience. He will be available to teach Extreme Programming style, dynamic prioritization skills, mindful work style, along with git, BASH, and Linux. Amil’s experience lies primarily on the big data and backend systems side. (experience)
ZenIT core team member, Taisuke Fukuno, founder, former president, and now board chairman of jig.jp (mobile software, open data, and IchigoJam kids programming mini-computer) will also be available to support the project. He is the founder of open data in Japan and famous for leading hundreds of volunteers in kids programming across Japan and several foreign countries.
Can I use my company’s professional development fund for this program?
You may want to consider using your employer’s professional development fund to cover your travel expenses. We think the pilot program should qualify because it is intended for the participants to learn many things. Please check with your employer and we are happy to work with them to make the use of PD funds possible.
What personal skills can I expect to learn?
Eiheiji town is one of the core regions in Japan and you can expect to learn authentic Soto Zen, as well as a happy lifestyle by studying the Eiheiji townspeople’s behavior and mindset. Tai Chi, Yoga, and Martial Arts instruction is also available.
And, of course, you will learn skills to bring mindfulness into your own work (e.g. frequent breaks, walking meetings) after you finish the program.
Why is the pilot free?
In some sense, the pilot program is almost like a free retreat or a free programming bootcamp. It is free because we have not yet fully developed the curriculum / direction of the ZenIT movement and need your help!
Who is paying for the program?
During the pilot phase, Eiheiji town is subsidizing rent for the ZenIT program space. The equipment is being lent by companies in Fukui. The remainder of program costs, including house rent, are being provided from the personal savings of the ZenIT team, all of whom are volunteers.
We are planning to put up a crowdfunding campaign to collect donations to support this pilot. Please let us know if you are interested in helping with that or personally donating, perhaps through your company.
After the pilot phase, we are hoping to become sustainable through tuition from participating individuals and companies looking to learn ZenIT style, as well as through possible governmental grant money..