Tokyo

  • Meet Tokyo's Bartending Monk Paid Member

    Bartenders are easy to confide in. Not just because you're probably wasted, but because so many others have been before you. Your neighborhood barkeep has already heard it all, and though he might not be able to impart any sage advice, he's at least developed some good listening skills. While barkeeps seem to have always occupied this unique social position, it's therapists who often do these days. Before therapy, which developed from the Christian culture of confession and divulgence, it was the clergy who saddled this responsibility. Vowz Bar in Tokyo revitalizes that once important role of clergy, placing them right behind the bar, where Buddhist-themed cocktails are mixed for spiritually thirsty patrons. Run by monks in the bustling Shinjuku district, it's likely the only bar where boozy-and-stirred concoctions are offered with a prayer. More »
  • Buddhist Cafe Culture and "Happiness Classes" Paid Member

    Monks from Mt. Koya (Koyasan), a center of Shingon Buddhism, are coming into Tokyo to offer classes to harried city-dwellers in cafe setting. This immediately made me think of the city centers of American Zen Centers, where one can go during the week before heading out to the mountains for retreats and so on. But here, it's usually the more serious students who do the calligraphy as the women are doing in the photo above. More »
  • "Oldest man in Tokyo" has been dead for 30 years Paid Member

    When Japanese officials arrived at Sogen Kato's house to congratulate the elderly man on his 111th birthday, they were in for a big shock. After family members chased officials away claiming that Kato did not want to see them, police were able to break into the house where they found Kato's remains covered in his bed. According to his family, Kato shut himself up in his room three decades ago to "become a living Buddha." Japanese authorities speculate that Kato---thought to be the oldest man living in Tokyo---may actually have been dead for 30 years. Police are now investigating the family for possible fraud charges. Read more about this story here. Image: chestofbooks.com More »