Monk-run bar loosens inhibitions, teaches Buddhism
LIFESTYLE APR. 15, 2017 - 06:12AM JST ( 2 )
Drinking at your neighborhood bar would appear to be inconsistent with a Buddhist’s quest for clarity of mind and enlightenment.
Intoxicants, after all, have the effect of clouding the senses, not to mention one’s judgment. But for Buddhist monk Yoshinobu Fujioka, who operates a bar in central Tokyo with other clergy of his faith, nirvana—it appears—is just a sip away.
The VOWZ BAR, which has found its niche among Japanese professionals, students and foreign tourists, is already in its 17th year of business. Add a rock band to the mix, and this group of Buddhist monks is taking unorthodoxy to new heights.
Customers drop by just to grab a drink or two and unwind, receive “spiritual guidance” from these men of the cloth, or quietly enjoy the meditative atmosphere of a Buddhist temple-like setting.
“Japanese people, such as salaried workers, traditionally find bars as a place where they can pour their hearts out to the bar owner, relax and gain some kind of support. Add a monk in the picture, and I believe that would be double the impact,” Fujioka said in a recent interview.
The 40-year-old, who dons the trademark black robe worn by Buddhist monks while he tends bar, belongs to the Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha school, which follows the “True Essence of Pure Land Buddhist Teaching.”