Ryohoji in Tokyo's western suburb of Hachioji was just another temple that few passersby bothered to enter until it came up with the novel idea of using "anime" characters to attract visitors.

The 420-year-old temple's combination of Buddhism and geek culture, which has even seen it hold "maid cafe" events on its grounds, may not be to everyone's liking.

However, it is a serious initiative by Shoko Nakazato, Ryohoji's 46-year-old chief priest, to seek new ways of interacting with the younger generation as ties between temples and their communities fray in modern society.