Shoon-ji in Fukui, “Even Buddhism Will Adapt With the Current Era”
People can now make donations using electronic money. From February 1st, at Shoon-ji (a Buddhist temple located in Fukui Prefecture, Fukui City, Togonika-cho), visitors can make monetary offerings using PayPay, an electronic payment service on smartphones. Visitors looking to use this method can visit the main temple building, scan the QR code by the saisen box (a wooden coin box), enter a desired amount, then put their palms together for a wish or prayer.
“Even with Buddhism, we want to adapt with the methods of the current era,” said the chief priest of the temple.
From 2016, the 17th generation chief priest Gyosen Asakura (aged 52) began performing the “Techno Buddhist Service”, where True Pure Land Buddhism services are combined with techno music, as a way to try and bring more of the younger generations into the temple. Gaining attention domestically and internationally for his high musicianship and new method of Buddhism, the Sakai City resident/singer-songwriter/Buddhist priest released a mini CD album, which was a collaborative project with HINATAKAKO during 2018. Asakura got the idea to set up “a matching system for monetary offerings” when installing the PayPay system in line with the sale of his CD at the temple.
“We have not heard of such a thing within the prefecture,” commented the Fukui Buddhist Federation (located in Fukui City) about the progressive initiative. The introduction of cashless payment systems for things such as sale of charms or monetary offerings could be seen as a service to accommodate foreign tourists visiting Japan’s shrines and temples, as well as a countermeasure against crime.
On the other side, the Kyoto Buddhism Federation (located in Kyoto Prefecture, Kyoto City) commented on the danger of third-party groups obtaining personal information of its religious followers; a statement was released last June in which cashless payments “should not be accepted when it comes to religious activities, including monetary offerings.”
“It’s convenient for times when I don’t have the right about of change for making offerings,” a homemaker living close to Shoon-ji commented, with no sign of resistance towards the concept.
“In contrast to long ago, when Buddhist temples received support through material donations of necessities, such as food and clothing, whether it’s appropriate to accept this new for of money is a debated issue. Especially considering these modern times, I wish for more consideration of methods that fit with the era, without fear of controversy,” said chief priest Asakura.