“Beautiful Buddhist Monks” Fashion Show!
Shingon Buddhists in Japan have taken a rather unconventional approach – for them, anyway – to celebrate their 1,200th anniversary next year…
But first, what is a Buddhist? Well, some describe it as a religion, some, a philosophy, others, simply a better way of life.
Whichever way you look at it, the ultimate ambition of a Buddhist is to reach Nirvana, which is a state of enlightenment. To do this, a Buddhist must free themselves of the suffering of an eternity of reincarnation by removing greed, ignorance and hatred from their lives. They must live a good life because when a person does good, good consequences will come of it and vice versa.
Shingon Buddhism is one of the mainstream schools of Buddhism and one of the few surviving lineages the originally spread to China and Japan from India in the 3rd and 4th century.
Kōyasan Shingon-shū is the oldest and largest of the 18 Shingon sects in Japan. The main temple of this sect, Kongōbu-ji, is located on Mount Kōya, known locally as Kōyasan.
Next year marks the 1,200th anniversary of the opening of a discipline-training hall on the mountain, and the Buddhists monks wanted to do something special to bring the public’s attention to Mount Kōya. So they held an event called “Kōyasan Festa in Nara – Ikunara Kōyasan”, the last part of which means, “If you want to go somewhere, you should go to Mount Kōyasan.”
But what was this event, we hear you ask? The Buddhist monks held a fashion show!
The fashion show was organised by the monks’ young teacher association, which saw 10 of its 1,500 members become models for the day. The theme of the show was “Bi-bozu”, which literally means, “Beautiful Buddhist Monks”.
The monks took the catwalk in front of an audience of around 300, wearing outfits that are rarely seen by the public. Some of the modelled pieces are normally only worn by high-ranking monks. The audience, most of whom were women, were cheering the monks on and shouting their adoration.
After the fashion show, a commemorative photo session was held on the catwalk stage for the audience and the monks.
Nao Ozu, 35, was one of the members of the audience who enjoyed the show. “All of the monks are really handsome,” she said, “I was excited.”
One of the models, Shuchi Matsuki, had been nervous about participating in the event. “I was a little bit embarrassed,” he said, “but I enjoyed playing the role of model.”