When Soin Satoshi Fujio, head priest of Dokuonji temple in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, attended his first Zoom meeting in February 2019 between Buddhist priests in Japan and India, he got an idea.

Fujio, who works with local community officials on suicide prevention and with those in hospice care, realized Zoom was a way to meet with people who couldn’t get to his temple. “Many have serious diseases or are hospitalized,” Fujio says, “and it can be difficult for them to come here.”

Then COVID-19 hit Japan. After canceling the March zazenkai (meditation meeting), participants soon asked about April. He decided to try online zazen (meditation), and with the help of Daigo Ozawa, chief abbott at Tokozenji temple in Yokohama, Fujio held his first session on April 4. Nearly 80 people joined. “I was really surprised,” he says, “not only at the turnout but because so many people came from around the world.”