A Beatboxing Buddhist Monk Creates Music for Meditation

Most of us assume Japan­ese Bud­dhist monks to be silent types. In their per­son­al lives they may well be, but if they want to go viral, they’ve got to log onto the inter­net and make some noise. This is the les­son one draws from some of the Bud­dhist fig­ures pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture: Kos­san, he of the Bea­t­les and Ramones cov­ers, or Gyōsen Asaku­ra, the priest who per­forms psy­che­del­ic ser­vices sound­tracked with elec­tron­ic dance music. Depend­ing on your taste in music, their per­for­mances may or may not induce the men­tal qui­et one asso­ciates with Bud­dhist prac­tice, and the music of Yoget­su Akasa­ka, the lat­est Japan­ese Bud­dhist monk to attain inter­net fame, may at first sound equal­ly untra­di­tion­al. But lis­ten and you may well find your­self in a med­i­ta­tive state with­out even try­ing.

“The 37-year-old went viral in May, after post­ing his ‘Heart Sutra Live Loop­ing Remix,’ a video that’s relax­ing like ASMR, and engross­ing like a DJ set,” writes Vice’s Miran Miyano. “With the loop machine, he lay­ers sounds and chants all com­ing from one instru­ment — his voice.” A musi­cian since his teens and a beat­box­er since his ear­ly twen­ties, the Tokyo-based Akasa­ka became a monk five years ago, fol­low­ing the path tak­en by his father, an abbott at a tem­ple in rur­al Iwate Pre­fec­ture.

“Before he was ordained in 2015, he belonged to a the­atre com­pa­ny formed in Fukushi­ma pre­fec­ture, north­east Japan, after the region was dev­as­tat­ed by the 2011 Tohoku earth­quake and tsuna­mi,” writes Richard Lord in the South Chi­na Morn­ing Post. “He has also been a full-time busker in coun­tries includ­ing the Unit­ed States and Aus­tralia.”

A busker Akasa­ka remains, in a sense, albeit one who, from the cor­ner of YouTube he’s made his own, can be heard across the globe. In addi­tion to record­ings like his hit ver­sion of the Heart Sutra, he’s also been live stream­ing per­for­mances for the past two months. Last­ing up to near­ly two hours, these streams pro­vide Akasa­ka an oppor­tu­ni­ty to vary his musi­cal as well as spir­i­tu­al themes, bring dif­fer­ent instru­ments into the mix, and respond to fans who send him mes­sages from all over the world, most­ly out­side his home­land. “I think in Japan, peo­ple often asso­ciate Bud­dhism with funer­als, and the sutra has a lit­tle bit of a neg­a­tive and sad image,” he says to Vice. Indeed, as the say­ing goes, the mod­ern Japan­ese is born Shin­to, mar­ries Chris­t­ian, and dies Bud­dhist. But as Akasa­ka shows us, his tra­di­tion has some­thing to offer all of us, no mat­ter our nation­al­i­ty, in life as well.

via Metafil­ter

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Japan­ese Bud­dhist Monk Cov­ers Ramones’ “Teenage Lobot­o­my,” “Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” Bea­t­les’ “Yel­low Sub­ma­rine” & More

Bud­dhist Monk Cov­ers Judas Priest’s “Break­ing the Law,” Then Breaks Into Med­i­ta­tion

Japan­ese Priest Tries to Revive Bud­dhism by Bring­ing Tech­no Music into the Tem­ple: Attend a Psy­che­del­ic 23-Minute Ser­vice

Beat­box­ing Bach’s Gold­berg Vari­a­tions

What Beat­box­ing and Opera Singing Look Like Inside an MRI Machine

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities, lan­guage, and cul­ture. His projects include the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall, on Face­book, or on Insta­gram.

by | Permalink | Comments (0) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.