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Japanese Buddhist Monk Combines Electronic Music and Choreography in Prayer Dance for Students


Japanese monk Ryushin Takiyama was recently featured in a music video set in a meditation hall at Koyasan Ekoin temple in Japan’s Wakayama Prefecture. The video, which mixes traditional postures with carefully choreographed dance moves, is set to an electronic dance music track called “Sutra Remix” by composer Kenta Higashioji. Takiyama partnered with the Japanese candy company Morinaga and the video features their Ramune candy as part of the routine.

Accompanying Takiyama are a group of Koyasan High School students dressed in Buddhist robes. The video begins with a view of the temple’s enormous main entrance, complete with imposing Dharma protectors towering over a solitary monk, who is standing at the central gate. Viewers next see shots of the temple’s courtyard and students walking in formation. The music begins slowly as the camera tracks inside the meditation hall. Takiyama moves serenely through the high school students, who face each other with hands held in prayer.


As the music shifts to a faster tempo, Takiyama begins his dance, blending elements of street dance with traditional Buddhist gestures. A student is seen taking a piece of candy to the bass beat, and then the students begin dancing as well.

The video was made as a way to encourage students in Japan as they studied for upcoming entrance exams with a ceremony known as a “passing prayer dance” (合格祈願ダンス; gōkaku kigan dansu). Japanese high schools are known as some of the most stressful in the world, with nearly one third of students showing moderate to severe depression symptoms in 2021.

Japan’s strict COVID-19 restrictions for the past two years have made things even more difficult. A high school student from Aichi Prefecture told interviewers: “Except for classes, all of the other school activities have been canceled. How come adults have told schools to limit students from going outside, but those same adults just do whatever they want? I can’t understand that.” (Nippon)

The video debuted on 19 December and has been viewed some 45,000 times as of this writing. As part of the campaign, a Morinaga company representative brought Ramune candy to the temple to be blessed. Students were encouraged to participate in a Twitter campaign from 24 December to 4 January, and 100 were selected to receive the blessed candy.

This is not the first music video made by Takiyama, who holds a degree in performing arts from Kyoto University of the Arts. He has performed to “Bad Guy” by Billie Eilish and “Dancing with a Stranger” by Sam Smith and Normani in recent videos. He has also created the Koyasan Dance Project to showcase his combined interests in Buddhist practice and contemporary dance.

The global pandemic has reached 300.2 million cases with some 5.47 million deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Resource Center. Japan, like many countries in East Asia, has done relatively well compared with the United States and many countries in Europe. So far, the country has recorded 1,741,837 confirmed cases and 18,395 deaths. Japan recently enhanced restrictions on travel and social activities in response to community spread of the omicron variant.

See more

Real Buddhist monk shows off hot (and sweet) EDM dance moves in Mount Koya video (Sora News 24)
The Japanese monk “tilted” his roof on the background of the EDM music to cheer the dead of the university (NewsBeezer)
Japanese Buddhist Monk Dances To EDM In Candy Ad To Bless Exam-Taking Students (The Smart Local)
Koyasan Dance Project
Koyasan Ekoin Temple
Nearly a Third of Japanese High School Students Show Depression Symptoms (Nippon)

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