“Many of [Japan’s] approximately 75,000 temples are facing the biggest crisis in their history,” reports IPS, “because hardly anyone ever goes to them these days.”
It’s a crisis of culture, and of fading traditions. So Japan’s local religious leaders are taking a different approach. …Are they going too far?
From IPS’s report:
Concerned that Buddhism is no longer part of everyday life, the Hongwanji Temple in Kyoto sought to reach out to the younger set by coming out with a DVD depicting the life of its founder, Shinran, of Shin Buddhism, considered the most popular form of Buddhism in Japan. The 108-minute anime, which cost about 3,600 yen (40 U.S. dollars) apiece, came with collectible miniature characters, key rings, pens and notes.
The results were mixed.
“A few people who saw it were very upset because they thought the DVD insulted Shinran’s sacredness,” said KeishinTagi, a 27-year-old priest at Jodo Shinshu Temple. When he showed it to 15 kids at Sunday school, it proved “too long for them and they fell asleep,” he said. “When I showed it to the adults, they said it was boring.”
Other temples use different strategies. Some employ English-speaking priests who give inspirational speeches on Buddhism to attract tourists. Still others stage fashion shows, called the ‘Bozu Collections’, where nuns and monks dressed in ornate robes hit the runways in temples while chanting to [a] hip hop beat.
Read the full IPS piece here.
And here’s the question. Is this going too far? Or is this a skillful way of bringing people to the dharma? I most certainly have an opinion on this, and it goes something like, Whatever works, within reason. But what do you think?