[Buddha-l] modern day Vimalakirtis-- and Fashionable Too!

Jamie Hubbard jhubbard at email.smith.edu
Fri Dec 28 11:20:12 MST 2007

> "They think Buddhism is very difficult, and deep and serious, but Buddhism
> is much more than that - exciting, funny even. I want to spread this kind of
> teaching."
> He feels people are more receptive in a bar, when they are drinking and with
> friends.
> Also go to
> http://search.bbc.co.uk/cgi-bin/search/results.pl?tab=all&go=homepage&q=japan+monks+bar&scope=all
Ah, those Japanese monks:

Dharma models: Japanese Buddhists take to catwalk

TOKYO (AP) - Japanese monks and nuns hit the catwalk in Tokyo on 
Saturday in a bid to spread Buddhism among younger people in this 
rapidly aging society.

The fashion show opened with a Buddhist prayer set to a hip-hop beat at 
the centuries-old Tsukiji Honganji temple, where nearly 40 monks and 
nuns from eight major Buddhist sects showed off elaborate robes in an 
effort to win back believers.

Five monks from each school walked on the runway, then chanted prayers 
and wrapped up in a grand finale with confetti resembling lotus petals.

Buddhist monks traditionally wear simple black robes. But to appeal to 
more fashion-conscious youth, the monks wore green and yellow clothes, 
some with gold embroidery. Others wore elaborate, multilayered robes.

"Their robes were gorgeous," said Sayaka Anma, one of the audience in 
her 20s, after the monks' show. "I was a bit surprised in the beginning, 
but it was very moving."

More than 1,200 years after it first arrived from mainland Asia, 
Buddhism in Japan is in crisis, priests say.

Almost three-quarters of Japan's population of 120 million are 
registered as Buddhist, but for many, the only time they enter a temple 
is to attend a funeral. That has sent many of the country's 75,000 
temples into financial trouble.

Japan's aging population has meant more funerals, but the declining 
population and birth rate means fewer young people to share the bill to 
keep temples afloat.

"We wanted to show the young people that Buddhism is cool, and temples 
are not a place just for funerals," said Koji Matsubara, a chief monk at 
Tsukiji.The Tsukiji Honganji offers theological seminars in English for 
foreign visitors, and has fitted its main hall with a pipe organ for 
Western-style weddings to attract young couples. Some other temples have 
also introduced cafes, art galleries and other innovations to reach out 
to young people who are interested in a different lifestyle.

"Many of us priests share the sense of crisis, and a need to do 
something to reach out to people," said priest Kosuke Kikkawa, 37, one 
of the organizers of Saturday's event. "We won't change Buddha's 
teachings, but perhaps we need a different presentation that can touch 
the feelings of the people today."-

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