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TOKYO

Buddhist bash offers up some spiritual relief

by Tomoko Otake

Staff Writer

Most Japanese people come in contact with Buddhist priests on formal occasions, such as when a family member passes away. But a cross-denominational group of young Buddhist monks is trying to change that — by putting together a unique cultural event involving three Buddhist temples, a Shinto shrine, and a bunch of artists and creators in Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward on April 29.

Titled “Kogen,” a word coined by Gashin Tomomitsu, the 29-year-old heir to Jogyoji Temple, and meaning “the origin of power/energy,” the daylong event offers participants a chance to choose from a wide range of workshops including yoga/meditation, a Taiwanese tea ceremony, calligraphy, incense-making and the game of go. Also included in the workshop menu is a session of kurayami gohan (dinner in the dark), in which participants are served dishes while blindfolded, and a “dying” workshop in which participants simulate the process of being diagnosed with terminal cancer and preparing for their departure from this world.

Meanwhile, a noh performance with traditional Japanese music and a live concert featuring DJs and musicians, including Cutsigh from the dub band audio active, will be staged on temple and shrine premises, located within a five-minute walk of each other.

The event, organizer Tomomitsu says, is aimed at offering spiritual relief to postquake youths in a fun and casual format.

“I feel the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011 has severely affected the psyche of young people in Tokyo (not just those in Tohoku),” says Tomomitsu, who is the mastermind behind Kogen, which originally launched in 2011. “We started this event as we felt there was no place for them to relax and feel energized.”

Tickets for the event, during which every participant gets a lunch box of shojin vegetarian food, and an access to one of the workshops, are ¥4,500 per person. For more information, visit www.higan.net/kohgen/2013/03/english.html.