Sunday, September 26, 2010

Buddhist Personality - Kakuho Aoe

Kakuho Aoe is a 33 years old technology savvy young man and he is a Zen monk at Ryokusenji Temple in Tokyo, Japan. He holds a monthly event called 'kurayami gohan' (eating in the dark) in the temple and on each occassion only limited guests, normally about 2 dozens, will be invited.

All the guests will be blindfolded before being led by the staff to a tatami room ( a traditional Japanese room ). His wife will start an ice breaking session by asking the blindfolded guests to play a game called 'janken' ( rock, paper, scissors ). Each guests will hold the hand of the person sitting next (right) to them to figure out the shape he/she makes. After the game, the guests will have a little chat before the food are served. The food served are vegetarians but the menu is not made known to the guests in advance.

Once the food are served, the guests will have to 'search' for their chopsticks by touching. Since the guests are not able to see what they eat, they will start to guess by using all their other senses other than sight. Different food make different sound when eaten. When the dinner is over, Kakuho will emerge to explain each of the dishes which he prepares himself to the guests and answers their questions.

Aoe, a business graduate from Fresno State University once had his own company dealing with aroma theraphy before decided to enter the temple. He wanted to help people around him through Buddhism. Today his temple has close to 1000 followers and he communicates with some of this computer savvy followers using internet. Aoe started this event in 2008 when he realised that in today's fast world, people are always in the rush and do not concentrate on the act of eating. By being blindfolded, his guests can concentrate fully on eating and the food they eat.