An old Buddhist temple in Sasayama, Hyogo Prefecture Japan, has come to embrace pop culture and opened its doors to anime fans and cosplayers.
Daikokuji Temple is an old structure and its main hall is said to be already 700 years old. The structure’s classic allure has attracted the attention of young people looking for authentic historical landmarks to conduct photoshoots.
According to a report on The Japan News, young people fond of anime and video games featuring characters from historical Japan regularly flock the temple.
Popular online games like “Token Ranbu,” “Sengoku Basara,” and “Fate/Grand Order” are among the common influences. Cosplayers would dress up as characters from these games and book a photoshoot session at the temple.
However, Daikokuji Temple was not always considered a cosplayer’s paradise. The temple started getting attention after an Osaka video production company shot a cosplay project at the venue. News got and soon, the monks living there received numerous applications to conduct a photoshoot.
In 2010, Chief priest Yuen Sakai finally decided to open the temple’s doors to this new breed of visitors. At first, the 53-year-old monk found it puzzling, but eventually relented and found it a good idea as it attracted young people to the temple.
“I believe our Buddha also finds it interesting,” he told the news outlet.
The monks even invested on some lighting equipment and smoke machines for the visitors to use.
Booking for a cosplay photoshoot costs 1500 yen (roughly P680) for a day shoot, and 2000 yen (roughly P900) for the evening. 3000 yen (roughly P 1,300)gets a full day’s pass. Prior reservations is a must.
Allowing pop culture too permeate the old temple might seem sacrilegious to some people, but apparently many local residents support the approach. They say it helps them build ties with young visitors.
Shinya Hashizume, professor of Osaka Prefecture University and an expert on subculture, also finds this a positive development.
“This is an amazing example of coexistence between a religious site and a contemporary hobby,” he said. “The temple is nothing less than a sacred site for cosplayers.” Alfred Bayle/KI