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25 December 2010 

 
Buddha’s Cartoon Adventure
 
A Buddhist temple has realized the power of cartoons to attract young and old Japanese into it’s fold.
 
In Hachioji, a suburb of Tokyo, Japan the Ryohoji Temple has for
the past 420 years been hidden amongst the streets quietly being home to
a small dedicated Buddhist following.
 
After being concerned that locals would only show up at the
temple’s door when there was a death in the family or a commemoration
that Chief Priest Shoko Nakazato decided to use anime to become more
relevant, particularly to young people.
 
This month the Temple unveiled its new “moe Buddhist statue,”that combined modern and ancient art.
 
It began in 2009 when the 46 year old Nakazato displayed a picture
of “moe” outside the temple to welcome passers by.  Moe is a traditional
Japanese slang word often for a young girl, and associated with
innocents, love and caring.
 
The impact astounded both the artist behind the initial work,
Toromi and Nakazato who watched as young people began lining up to take
photos and now the media has began to turn it’s cameras on this tiny
Temple.
 
But did it bring people through the door? It did.   Last month,
during one two day festival 2000 people marched through the doors.
 
Yet it is not only limited today to an outdoor display, the
Temple’s website and promotion material all embed cartoons with the
Buddhist message.
 
With the growth and love of Japanese for cartoons many believe that
it is inevitable that anime will be increasingly combined with ancient
traditions and modern commerce to promote different parts of life.
  
 


 

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References:

http://ryohoji.jp/top.html

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20101225f1.html

http://www.animevice.com/moe/22-7/

 
 
 
 
 
 

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