…A pistol for an incense burner

From the Irish Times

Picture the scene: A fleet of black limousines crunches up the driveway at a Buddhist temple nestled in lush, pine-carpeted mountains, an hour west of Tokyo. The precious cargo of limo one – a violent but ageing mob boss – steps out into the sun, surrounded by four sumo-sized bodyguards, and is welcomed by a priest.

As cherry blossom petals blow gently in the wind, the gangster enters the shrine and proceeds to be solemnly ordained into the Buddhist priesthood.

Click to read more of this article

Japan temple burns down as monk attacked by bees

From The Associated Press

A Japanese monk trying to rid his temple of a hornet’s nest panicked when the hornets attacked him and dropped a torch, burning his temple to the ground, police said Thursday.

The Buddhist monk had put lighted rags on a stick into the nest in the temple, but dropped it and ran when the hornets flew out and attacked him, Niigata prefectural (state) police official Yuichi Ozaka said. The fire occurred Wednesday.

Click to read more of this article

In Japan, Buddhism May Be Dying Out

From NY Times – The Japanese have long taken an easygoing, buffetlike approach to religion, ringing out the old year at Buddhist temples and welcoming the new year, several hours later, at Shinto shrines. Weddings hew to Shinto rituals or, just as easily, to Christian ones.

When it comes to funerals, though, the Japanese have traditionally been inflexibly Buddhist — so much so that Buddhism in Japan is often called “funeral Buddhism,” a reference to the religion’s former near-monopoly on the elaborate, and lucrative, ceremonies surrounding deaths and memorial services.

Click to read more of this article

Heavy security surrounds Olympic torch runner in Japan

From Associated Press – Japanese runners bypassed minor protests Saturday and carried the Olympic torch through Nagano’s streets, lined by thousands of riot police and closely monitored by helicopters overhead.

Police guards in track suits surrounded the first runner – the manager of Japan’s national baseball team – and another 100 uniformed riot police trotted alongside six patrol cars and two motorcycles. They were backed up by thousands of other police.

Click to read more of this article

Tokyo temple vandalized after halting Olympic plan

From Associated Press – A major Buddhist temple in Japan was vandalized early Sunday, days after temple officials halted plans to host the upcoming Olympic torch relay because of sympathies with Tibetan protesters, police said.

Spray-painted graffiti — consisting of white circular patterns and lines — was found Sunday morning in six spots in the main hall at Zenkoji Temple, a national treasure in the city of Nagano, Japanese broadcaster NHK reported.

Click to read more of this article

Japanese temple withdraws from torch relay

From CNN – Security concerns and sympathy toward Tibetans prompted a Buddhist temple in Nagano, Japan, to withdraw from participation in the Olympic torch relay next week, a temple official said on Friday.

The torch relay had been set to begin at Zenkoji Temple in Nagano, site of the 1998 Olympic Winter games — on April 26.

“We have to protect our heritage and visitors,” a temple official told reporters, citing security concerns and the “Tibet issue.”

Click to read more of this article