Born April 29, 1982 (Taurus)

Motto: "Ouseki chokujin." It's an idiom meaning that sometimes you have to compromise on small things to achieve your goal. In other words, for the sake of whatever you want to protect, don't sweat the small stuff. I used to be very stubborn, so I needed to have these words in my head. At the time, I wasn't in a state of mind to be swayed by others.
How I spend time off: I practice calligraphy and go to the movies with my son. Recently, I even saw Mission: Impossible 2! ... It was really long (laughs).

After becoming the capital of Japan in 794, Kyoto served as its political and cultural center. As a result, it is home to countless shrines and temples, with many of the latter being the head temples for their sects. One of Kyoto's iconic temples, Kiyomizu-dera is the Kita-Hosso sect's head temple. In 778, Kenshin - a monk who practiced Mountain Buddhism - founded the temple, creating a statue of the Eleven-Headed Thousand-Armed Kannon Bodhisattva. Later, a shogun named Sakanoue-no-Tamuramaro constructed buildings to enshrine Kannon, who still watches over the people of Kyoto today.

The Japanese expression "to jump from the stage of Kiyomizu," which means "to take the plunge," comes from the 13-meter-tall wooden "stage" that stands at the top of a cliff on Otowa Mountain. It is also famous for being the spot where the kanji of the year is announced by the Japanese Kanji Proficiency Society every December.

Teachings that Warm Our Hearts

In the Edo period (1603-1867), there was a monk named Hakuin Ekaku. He had a simple way of explaining the innermost secrets of zazen, part of which was that the Buddha and humans are one, like water and ice. For the Buddha, put him in a square container and he'll be square; put him in a round container and he'll be round. Moreover, he doesn't stay up high - he keeps on flowing downwards. Even if he's in muddy water, he stays untainted. After a while, the mud settles and he stays pure. That's the kind of existence he is. On the other hand, humans have corners and edges; we can't change ourselves to fit any container, so we're like cold ice. However, experiencing Buddhism warms your heart and helps you to become a flexible being, like water.

Things that are Needed Stay

Kyoto was the capital of Japan from 794 to 1868. It would receive the latest things of each era, so it's actually a place that enjoys new things. Coffee shops and bread were also welcomed quite early on. The ones who feel that Kyoto has an old atmosphere are from other areas. Us people from Kyoto aren't antiques or anything (laughs). Temples are also thought of as old places, but it's just that we're using things that are from long ago.

Religious facilities are for people living in the present. It doesn’t matter to us if somewhere’s a World Heritage Site or a National Treasure. It's the same as an upperclassman and underclassman, a parent and child. There's no point in regarding someone as a big shot just because they were born before another, right? Kiyomizu-dera is an old temple, but it just happens that the things preserved by our predecessors are still here today. They might not be here by the time my son grows up. Things that are unneeded go away as the eras pass, and things that are needed stay. What’s important is heart. Even if religious buildings are gone, we can still teach others about the Buddha's heart. I think that temples and the Buddha are simply a kind of staging that creates a space where you can be grateful.

Keeping the Light of Kyoto Alive

The Japanese word "yudan" - consisting of characters meaning "oil" and "interrupt" - comes from how people had to keep adding oil to lamps offered at Buddhist altars so they wouldn't go out. A flame that's been burning for 1000 years still needs new oil. Japan's current excitement about inbound tourism simply looks like it's using the resources preserved by our ancestors for the sake of business. We need to sow more seeds that will bloom in 100 or even 200 years. Take the artisans who use their traditional techniques to work on the various buildings in Kiyomizu-dera; they're not being protected, and people who can take on their work are disappearing. That means the temple as it appears now will someday cease to exist. Personally, I'm not fussed about its physical form, so if Japanese people agree it should disappear and it does, then that's fine. But it would be a pity if it went away without anyone knowing. That's why one of the aims of Okagesan, the company I lead, is to spread awareness. You're free to choose after learning about it. I want people to think for themselves more.

A Sustainable Kind of Happiness

I've found that when everyone's happy, so am I. Even if I'm happy, it's no fun when it's just me. I do experience a moment of pleasure. Like, that meat tasted so good! I got to drive an awesome car! And so on. But that's not a sustainable kind of happiness. I believe that the people around me are smiling and thinking that they had a good time is what contributes to my happiness.

Objects provide a moment of pleasure. Being rich of heart is the only way for us to become happy. If someone is pleased or feels joy, I'm happy too. The me of today is the result of the me of yesterday. Hoping for a happy tomorrow sows the seeds for a happy today. It's impossible to immediately create a perfect day. Imagining a better tomorrow together and valuing each other as much as we value ourselves will bring everyone happiness. I think this might be the most important part of Buddhism.



What led you to become a monk?
I was raised at the temple, so after I turned seven, I would do the morning prayers then go to school. After I got back, I would clean and help out at the temple. That was my daily routine. I went to a Catholic elementary school, so it was "amen" for me when I got to school (laughs). Although I didn't plan on becoming a monk, engaging with Chinese monks led me to study in China, where I really realized that I'd been sheltered until then. That made me want to learn about the spirit of Buddhism.
How do you think Buddhism has changed since it began?
The core has stayed the same, but Buddhism continues to change. If someone from the Edo period travelled to our time and talked with fellow Japanese people, they probably wouldn't understand. Explanations need to be tailored to the time, the place, and the person. Religion itself is all the same to me. I think that for Westerners, they had an environment where Christianity could be easily accepted. A pillar looks round from above and rectangular from the side. I believe that what everyone is pursuing is the same; it's just that it looks different depending on how people take it.
Do you think that your actions and what other people receive from you come around?
I think it's questionable to hope for your deeds to come around, but I do believe that good and bad is repaid. In fact, heaven and hell share the same environment. There's lots of food and things, and everyone's nails are very long. People in hell pick up food with those long nails and try to feed themselves, but it won't reach their mouths. On the other hand, people in heaven use their nails to put food in the mouths of others. People who are full realize that there are others who haven't eaten and feed them without being asked. That's what Heaven is. When everyone's happy, you become happy too. That's why I always think about the happiness of those around me.


Price 300,000 yen
Number of participants per group 1-4 people
Available times 6:00 am to 9:00 am
Cancellation policy 100% cancellation fee 7 days or more before the event date.
Payment method Credit card only
Application Requirements Participants must be at least 18 years old
(Children 12-18 years old may participate if accompanied by a parent or guardian)
Reservation deadline Until 7 days prior to the date of the dialogue
What will happen on the day 1. Pick up at hotel
2. Arrive at location of dialogue
3. Chat and explanation about dialogue
4. Dialogue with your chosen Kyotoite
5. Drop off at hotel


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