By Naoyuki Ogi
If you’re looking for a building with Buddhist alters in Tokyo, you won’t find it at Higanji’s Temple’s Web site.
The temple is connected to today’s world and social media sites such as Twitter, YouTube and FaceBook.
“Our temple’s online presence in English and Japanese offers something for everyone regardless of their religious beliefs, background or age,” said 32-year-old Matsumoto. “This is the first Buddhist site that I know of that offers something for people to weigh in their mind or get spiritual help online.”
The temple has a counseling service in which Buddhists priests advise people on ways to solve their problems or listen to them. He says it is important for Buddhist priests to find the cause of people’s problems and help work out a solution for them.
At any time of the day, people can click on the temple’s site.
Matsumoto got the idea after he started writing a blog in 2003. Few people in Japan were blogging then.
“I was probably the first person to start a blog as a Buddhist priest,” he said. “I began it because I wanted to help people who wished to be a priest. At that time, there were no handbooks around that explained how to go about becoming one.”
Through his blog, he came to know many Buddhist priests and expanded the project to spread the teachings of Buddha. The blog developed as a new way of introducing Buddha’s teachings and eventually evolved in the Temple’s site, where everyone is welcome as it's non-sectarian.
However, some people criticize the site because they believe that the teachings of Buddha should pass down directly through people and not technology. They disagree with the notion of an online temple. A temple is a building where people visit, and the online temple goes against this tradition. In addition, many older priests do not know how to use a computer, much less understand the Internet.