Japan contest seeks to demystify Buddhist monks and nuns

Nun Koyu Osawa was declared the spectators' favourite in a contest at Life Ending Industry Expo in Tokyo on Aug 22, 2016.
Nun Koyu Osawa was declared the spectators' favourite in a contest at Life Ending Industry Expo in Tokyo on Aug 22, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) - Two Buddhist monks and a nun strolled down a catwalk, showed off talents such as karate moves and answered questions in a Japanese contest on Monday (Aug 22) aimed at making Buddhist practitioners more approachable and less solemn.

Nun Koyu Osawa, who wore a black robe and sported closely cropped hair, was voted the spectators' favourite at the Tokyo event organised by Obosan.com, or "Monks.com", a web-based provider of Buddhist services such as funerals and marriages.

In response to one question, Sister Osawa recalled when a friend was in tears trying to talk her out of becoming a nun.

She said she wanted people to know that being a monk or nun can involve hardships and it is not simply a job relying on donations at a temple.

Mr Kazuma Hayashi, the contest organiser, said he wanted to make monks - often seen as serious, distant figures associated with funerals - more approachable and a part of daily life.

Monks "are not people who you associate with only after you die", he said, but they can help with ordinary struggles.