In a country famous for its laid-back, mix-and-match attitude to faith, here’s T5s first-ever roundup of religion-related news and features:

  • Visitors to shrines and temples in Japan in the first three days of 2021 plummeted from a year before, a private survey using smartphone location data has shown. Shrines and temples had asked for cooperation to stagger New Year’s visits so as to reduce the risk of coronavirus infection.
  • ESG investing is so popular in Japan that even Buddhist monks are getting into it. Nomura Securities has been finding that more and more Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines are interested in buying environmental, social and governance bonds, Bloomberg reports, as the sites face a drop in visits due to Japan’s shrinking population and, in the short term, the pandemic.
How I became a makeup artist monk | KODO NISHIMURA | TEDXWASEDAU | TEDX TALKS
How I became a makeup artist monk | KODO NISHIMURA | TEDXWASEDAU | TEDX TALKS
  • During a sheltered upbringing in a Buddhist temple in Tokyo, gay monk Kodo Nishimura kept his sexuality a closely guarded secret, while also concealing his burgeoning love of makeup. In the closet no longer, nowadays Nishimura blends religious duties with work as a makeup artist. He even appeared in a special series of Netflix’s “Queer Eye” set in Japan.
  • Hanukkah is well over but, er, hey [checks Google], Purim is coming up! But you don’t need a date hook to get something from Eric Margolis’ 20 Questions grilling of Shmuel Vishedsky, the head rabbi for the Jewish Community of Kansai. Any guesses which parts of Japanese culture Vishedsky thinks clash and resonate with Jewish culture?
  • Japan is home to about 200,000 Muslims but there are only seven cemeteries across the archipelago that accommodate Islamic interment. Islamic laws strictly forbid cremation — the norm in Japan — and require Muslims to be buried with traditional Islamic rites. But as the Nishinippon Shimbun reports, a plan in Beppu to open the first cemetery in Kyushu exclusively for Islamic burials has encountered stiff local opposition.