On twitter and elsewhere, there has been some confusion about the name “denbutsu”, so I’d like to clear this up right from the get go.

I originally started using the name on the message board Pro Sports Daily, where I primarily posted about the Denver Nuggets and all things NBA, as well as the Denver Broncos. My original user name over there was JesusBong, which I had chosen for its irreverence and because I just loved this picture, which I used as my avatar. But as my involvement on that site got heavier, I spent more and more time there during my lunch breaks at an office where I worked at the time. The fear of someone looking over my shoulder and seeing something that could potentially get me into trouble led me to request a name change.

I chose “denbutsu” as a combination of the two places I call home: Colorado, where I was born, and Japan, where I’ve spent most of my adult life. The “den” is for Denver, and the “-butsu” comes from the Japanese word daibutsu, which means Great Buddha. One of Japan’s most famous cultural icons is the Great Buddha in Kamakura, which is just a stone’s throw away from where I live in southern Yokohama. I chose that image for my avatar because a) it represents where I live, b) it looks “person-like” so it works for an avvy, and c) I just think it looks cool. And it just stuck. I’ve been using it for a long time now.

I’m an atheist, so for me it has no meaning beyond the aesthetic and cultural. And while I do consider Buddhism to be among the more innocuous of the world’s religions, especially here in Japan where it takes on a largely secular form, I myself am not a Buddhist.

I actually did consider Continue reading