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HomeTassajaraZen Practice and Training at TassajaraApprenticeship Programs

Zen Joinery Apprenticeship Program

photo of Japanese Gate
Gate in Palo Alto, designed and built by Paul Discoe in a style being considered for the Tassajara Gate. Photo: Roslyn Banish

Oakland & Tassajara
July 21, 2012 – April 20, 2013
NOTE: This program is now full.

This page provides the basic information about the Tassajara Zen Joinery Apprenticeship program which will take place in Oakland, CA, for eight months and conclude with installation of the new gate at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center over a period of two weeks. Before applying, please read the information on this page thoroughly.

To be considered for this program, you must complete and submit the Zen Joinery Apprenticeship Application, available online at the link below:

  • Zen Joinery Apprenticeship Application NOTE: The program is full as of June 15, 2012; the application is no longer available.

The closing date for applications is July 1, 2012, or when the program becomes full. Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have about the program (see below).

Program

The Zen Joinery Apprenticeship program (ZJA) offers the opportunity to train in the art of Japanese joinery with master craftsman Paul Discoe.

We invite you to join us in rebuilding the main entry gate to Tassajara, the first Zen monastery outside of Asia. A new gate will be designed and built in Oakland, CA, over nine months by a small group of apprentices working in the traditional manner under the tutorship of Paul Discoe. Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, the founder of the San Francisco Zen Center, ordained Paul Discoe as a Zen priest and sent him to Japan to study Japanese carpentry in the 1960s. This is a unique opportunity to study in-depth with master craftsman and Zen priest Paul Discoe on a project to rebuild the front gate at Tassajara, his spiritual home.

The program, every other Saturday in Oakland, will offer invaluable hands-on training to those interested in learning all aspects of traditional Japanese joinery. The final assembly of the gate will take place at Tassajara, east of Big Sur, CA, during a two-week intensive work period.

Content

The program will teach students the philosophies and methods of Japanese joinery under the tutorship of Paul Discoe. It is a project-based class that will collectively build the new main entry gate for Tassajara Zen Mountain Center.

  • The class is open to students of all skill levels.
  • The class will be held one full Saturday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, every other week for eight months.
  • Topics of the course will include design, joinery techniques, shop drawings and cut lists, wood preparation, tool use and care, cut out, and assembly.
  • Students will be expected to acquire their own tools as they can afford them — a beginning tool box may cost around $1,000. The more tools a student has, the more interesting things they can do.
  • Students are encouraged to attend every class. Missing one day of instruction will significantly hinder a student’s capacity to contribute and fully participate.
  • The assembly of the project at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center will take the form of an intensive two-week work period living at Tassajara, with vegetarian food and hot baths. Participants are expected to commit to at least one week of this assembly period.
photo of Paul Discoe
Paul Discoe. Photo: Joinery Structures

Paul Discoe

Paul Discoe is a formally trained widely recognized master of Japanese joinery as well as being an ordained Zen Buddhist priest in the Soto Zen lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi.

He studied art history and philosophy as an undergraduate in the United States and Buddhist temple design and construction in Japan. He became a student of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in California, and, after four years, Suzuki sent him to Japan to train under a traditional master builder for five years. Upon his return, he founded Joinery Structures in 1988. His projects include the Kojin-an Zen Temple in Oakland for Akiba Sensei, the founders hall and kitchen at Tassajara, the Lindesfarne guesthouse and Wheelwright Center, and the abbot’s house at Green Gulch, as well as several prestigious homes and projects internationally. His current project is a system of prefabricated building parts, made of salvaged and recycled materials, that can be assembled in many forms.

Schedule

The training will take place in Oakland in the form of a full Saturday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, every other week from the end of July 2012 to late March 2013. The final assembly of the Gate will take place at Tassajara during a two-week intensive work period from April 6 to April 20, 2013.

In order to be considered for the apprenticeship program applicants will need to commit to the full program including one week of the construction work period in April 2013.

Calendar

photo of Japanese Gate
Gate in Palo Alto, designed and built by Paul Discoe in a style being considered for the Tassajara Gate. Photo: Roslyn Banish
2012  
July 21 Design
August 4 Design
August 18 Techniques of Joinery
September 1 Shop Drawings and Cut list
September 15 Preparation of Wood
September 29 Preparation of Wood
October 13 Layout on Wood
October 27 Layout on Wood
November 10 Tool Care and Maintenance
November 24 Tool Care and Maintenance
December 1 Cut out
December 15 Cut out
2013  
January 12 Cut out
January 26 Cut out
February 9 Cut out
February 23 Cut out
March 9 Cut out
March 23 Final Cut out
April 6-20 Assembly at Tassajara

Costs

The cost of the Zen Joinery Apprenticeship program is $1,400.

This includes:

  • 144 hours of hands-on experience and tuition in Oakland
  • Two weeks of on-site construction tuition at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center
  • Two weeks board and lodging at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center

The cost does not include:

  • Tools: Students will be expected to acquire their own tools as they can afford them — a beginning tool box may cost around $1,000. The more tools a student has, the more interesting things they can do.
  • Transportation to and from Tassajara Zen Mountain Center: Participants will be expected to arrange their own transportation.

Application Process

In order to apply for the ZJA program please fill out the [online application form] - NOTE: The program is full as of June 15, 2012; the application is no longer available. If you have any difficulties with this process, please contact simon.moyes@sfzc.org. Applications are due by July 1, 2012.

The application will be reviewed and you will be contacted within two weeks.

Upon notification that you are eligible for the program a $300 deposit will be required to be accepted into the program.

The program is limited to around 10 people.

Limited scholarships are available for this program. Please contact simon.moyes@sfzc.org if you would like to apply for a scholarship.

Thank you for your interest.

photo of Japanese Gate
Traditional Japanese construction details. Drawing: courtesy Joinery Structures