Japanese monks dance to EDM

Japanese Buddhist monks may not be a rare sight in Japan, but those who dance to EDM certainly are. A promotional video by Morinaga & Co. – a confectionery company – sees a group of Japanese monks dancing to EDM after eating soda-flavoured candy.

Video of dancing monks features Mount Koya

Japanese Monks Dance To EDM - shingon buddhist temple
Image adapted from: 森永製菓

The video opens with beautiful shots of the Shingon Buddhist temple in Mount Koya, where its sacred pilgrimage routes were designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites back in 2004. The video then transitions to daily activities of the monks accompanied by the sounds of birds chirping.

Japanese Monks Dance To EDM - monk meditating
Image adapted from: 森永製菓

This sense of tranquillity quickly dissipates as the beat drops and one of the monks, Ryushin Takiyama, breaks out into a dance that incorporates street, contemporary, and religious elements.

Japanese Monks Dance To EDM - monks dancing
Image adapted from: 森永製菓

Check out the full video here:

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Video credit: 森永製菓

Ryushin Takiyama, a monk who’s also a dancer 

Japanese Monks Dance To EDM - Ryushin Takiyama
Image credit: 高野山×DANCE Project

Ryushin Takiyama isn’t just a regular monk. After graduating from the Performing Arts course at Kyoto University of the Arts, Takiyama obtained a degree in priesthood. Takiyama aspires to use art and dance to better understand the complex philosophy of the human senses. 

Japanese Monks Dance To EDM - Ryushin Takiyama dancing
Image credit: 高野山×DANCE Project

By intertwining street, contemporary, and religious dance, he hopes to express his own life as an art form. Takiyama dances in hopes of leaving behind selfishness and to be eventually relieved of human suffering.

“Passing Prayer Dance” created to cheer on exam-taking students

After Takiyama’s short solo performance, the rest of the monks pop a piece of ramune (soda) candy into their mouths and start dancing with him, as if the candy is the reason behind their enthusiastic and out-of-character endeavours. These monks are actually students from Mount Koya High School clad in traditional Buddhist robes.

Japanese Monks Dance To EDM - monks eating ramune
Image adapted from: 森永製菓

Besides simply promoting Morinaga’s ramune candy, the video was also made to pray for the success of Japanese students who are studying for the upcoming exams. Not only was the ramune candy blessed by a monk in a fire ritual, but the entire dance itself was also meant to be a “passing prayer dance” (合格祈願ダンス; gōkaku kigan dansu) – a dance to pray for academic success – for the students.

Japanese monks dance to EDM to bless students

Koyasan x DANCE Project is offering a religious dance lesson dubbed “大阪今里教室”, which can be translated as “Osaka Imazato Class”. Attendees get to learn and immerse themselves in the unique style of religious dance. The class will be headed by Ryushin Takiyama and is open to everyone regardless of skill level.

The class is only available via reservation over the phone.

Getting there: The studio is a 3-minute walk from Shin-Fukae Station on the Sennichimae subway line. Private parking is available for those who choose to drive there.

Address: 537-0012 Oimazato, Higashi Nari-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka
Dance lesson price: ¥3,000 (~USD25.82) for 60 minutes
Time: 8PM-11PM, Daily
Telephone: 090-7098-6725

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Cover image adapted from: 森永製菓

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