Japanese Zen monk to bring innovative Buddhist music to Taiwan

- through Henry Oudin

Published on

Zen Buddhist monk Yakushiji Kanho, renowned for blending traditional Buddhist scriptures with contemporary musical styles, is set to embark on a three-date tour of Taiwan in late October, following his previous sold-out performance at Legacy Taipei in December 2023 .

Yakushiji gained worldwide fame for his innovative interpretations of sacred texts such as the heart sutrawhich has been viewed over 5,3 million times on YouTube, accompanied by synthesizers and electronic drums. His unique approach extends to other compositions that fuse classical sutras with genres such as hip-hop and acoustic guitar, deeply resonating with a diverse audience.

In an interview, Yakushiji described music as both a personal expression and a means of remaining authentic to himself, emphasizing his long-standing affinity for merging musical creativity with Zen philosophy: "I believe that Music and Buddhism have something in common, and I hope my music can bring hope and inner peace to the audience. » (Taiwan News)

Born into a lineage that ruled Kaizen-ji, a 400-year-old Buddhist temple in Imabari, Japan, Yakushiji's path strayed from tradition by first pursuing a career in music. Although he was born into a background that would typically lead him to the leadership of a temple, one passed down from grandfather to father to son, Yakushiji discovered his passion for music very early in life, training his first band in high school and eventually signing a recording contract for his band Kissaquo.

In an interview with Tricycle: The Buddhist Review in 2021, he describes his first introduction to music through his father:

My father also loves music and it was thanks to him that I became interested in music. He took me to karaoke when I was little and we listened to records together. He enjoyed the guitar as a hobby but did not play it well. I started playing his guitar when I was in middle school. And I used to recite the Heart Sutra every morning before going to school.

(Tricycle: The Buddhist Review)

However, a turning point came when a band member fell ill, prompting Yakushiji to explore Buddhist teachings in more depth during a break between tours. This led him to integrate Buddhist scriptures into his musical repertoire, transforming his artistic expression into a vehicle for spiritual exploration and dissemination of Buddhist principles.

Yakushiji, 45, adheres to Rinzai Zen, which emphasizes realizing one's true nature and the interconnectedness of all actions. His interpretations of revered texts such as the heart sutra and the “Great Compassion Mantra,” set to contemporary musical arrangements, illustrate his mission of connecting ancient wisdom with modern sensibilities.

At his past concerts, audience members have described his work as "really pleasing to the ear" and "so talented", while others said: "It's refreshing to hear someone combine the heart sutra and EDM. » (Radii)

In collaboration with institutions such as Yunlin's Beigang Wude Temple, Yakushiji has released singles that blend Buddhist and Taoist scriptures, aiming to cultivate inner peace and resilience in listeners. His upcoming "Enlightenment" tour in 2024 will include performances at Backstage in Kaohsiung on October 18, Legacy Taichung on October 20, and Zepp New Taipei on October 25, showcasing his commitment to using music as a transformative and universal language of music. spiritual enrichment.

Through his artistic journey, Yakushiji continues to inspire audiences with the belief that music and Buddhism share a common essence, offering hope and serenity amidst life's challenges.

See more

Related news articles from BDG

The article Japanese Zen monk brings innovative Buddhist music to Taiwan appeared first on Buddhist News Global.

photo of author

Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

Leave comments