Thanks for the information everyone, this has all been very useful.
JKhedrup wrote: Part of the problem might be visa-wise. It is very hard for Tibetans to stay in Japan.
This is one of the things I've worried about. Of course there are plenty of Tibetan resources in the US, as others have pointed out to me, but if I wanted to study abroad I believe India has 10 year visas for Americans if say I wanted to study in Dharamsala or elsewhere. The only issue I've had with India is (I could be wrong here) that I've heard so many horror stories about living there. One cannot live through the eyes of fear, but I've heard spiritual charlatans, malaria, rabies, filthy water, etc. are serious dangers to take into consideration.
One of the reasons I initially inquired about Chan Buddhism, and also my recent question about Tibetan Buddhism and Shingon in China, is because China is comparatively easier to get to. I had already had plans of trying to teach English in China.
Japan I am sure would be equally difficult for Westerners to get a visa to stay for prolonged periods, though of course I could be wrong about this as it is not something I've researched in any amount of depth.
Astus wrote:If you consider Tantra your primary interest you can find Tibetan Vajrayana sources plenty in English. Shingon is a different matter and to pursue it you would soon find the need to learn Japanese because of the lack or English resources, not to mention ordination in Japan. Learning to read the canonical works is the next level. But it's not impossible, there is at least one Westerner who went through with it and he is a Shingon master living in Japan. Tibetan Buddhism is a lot easier path. In terms of ordination, however, if you were serious about becoming a monk, the easiest way is going for Theravada, second best is Taiwan and Korea.
I've heard much the same about Theravada, but I'll admit I've never been as interested in Theravada as much as Zen and especially Tantra. The Thai Forest tradition sounds nice, but again, I feel my heart lies in tantric Buddhism.
Regarding Shingon, I've managed to procure some resources online so I've been studying it, been trying to read Kukai's works, etc. in conjunction with my study of Tibetan Buddhism. I know this is a bit of a subjective question and may have no right answer, but could anyone say that Shingon is "inferior" to Tibetan Buddhism because of their lack of the later Tantras or perhaps because of the cultural atmosphere being that Japan has Westernized/secularized to a greater degree than Tibetans (or so it seems)? Is there any benefits or anything unique to Shingon that would make it worthy of pursuing further over simply going straight into Tibetan Buddhism?
I suppose culture shouldn't factor in so highly as the teachings and spiritual potential of a tradition, and while I don't dislike Tibetan culture by any means (quite fascinated by it),since childhood I've had an interest in North East Asian cultures. I suppose my love of traditional Chinese, Japanese, and Korean culture is what has made me even consider Shingon or, previously, Zen over Tibetan Buddhism. It also seems to me that the East Asian languages might have a more practical use beyond just the study of Buddhism and more resources available compared to Tibetan. In any case, I hope to I can learn more from the learned members of this forum and from my own study, and I am sure with continued effort and exploration I will find my niche. Thanks again everyone.