• Home ·
  • News ·
  • Monks, Alcohol & Hip-Hop
  • 22Jan

    Monks, Alcohol & Hip-Hop

    Tokyo, Japan (CNN) — Outside the 400-year-old Kyoouji Temple, Kansho Tagai, dressed in his traditional monk robes, paused and began a sutra. He bobbed his head and then broke into a lyrical rap.

    “This is an old, old story, a fantasy and longing cosmology. Hey, hey, what’s the story about? It’s about the Buddha, yo. Hey brother, listen carefully! You got it? No? You don’t? Okay, baby, no problem.”

    Tagai, or Mr. Happiness, as he prefers to be called, is delivering an ancient message to a hip hop beat. The monk hosts hip hop shows at his temple, drawing young people to a place that is traditionally filled with the elderly. His hip hop message is so popular that twice as many people now visit his temple.

    “Buddha’s doctrine is a treasure for us,” Tagai said. “But we’re not able to convey his wisdom to the people if we only stick with the old ways. So I try to use a new way to spread Buddha’s doctrine. I want to spread Buddhism to the young by using the language they easily understand. Buddhism itself hasn’t changed. It’s just the way it’s presented.”

    The ancient religion is in crisis, Tagai said, because monks are not reaching the young with a message that brings spiritual relief. The numbers support his fears. Japan is home to 75,000 temples, but those numbers are on the decline. The Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs reports that since 2000, hundreds of temples have closed every year.

Comments are closed.