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Lecture of laughs: Hyogo monk wins inaugural 'Houwa' Buddhist lecture prize

Zuiju Adachi, left, winner of the Houwa Grand Prix, and judges' prize winner Shinkan Yamazoe wave and smile after receiving their awards, in Suma Ward, Kobe, on June 2, 2019. (Mainichi/Ryoichi Mochizuki)

KOBE -- An inaugural competition to select a monk people would most like to meet again through the quality of their Houwa, or Buddhist lectures, took place at the Suma-dera temple in Suma Ward here on June 2.

Monk Zuiju Adachi is seen receiving the grand prix for the first Houwa Grand Prix at Suma-dera temple in Suma Ward, Kobe, on June 2, 2019. (Mainichi/Ryoichi Mochizuki)

Monks from different sects and regions came together to deliver their Houwa at the "H1 Houwa Grand Prix," which was sponsored by the Mainichi Newspapers and other organizations. Zuiju Adachi, 44, chief priest of the Chorakuji temple of in Soto sect in Tambasasayama in Hyogo Prefecture, western Japan, won the contest. The special judges' prize went to Jodo sect monk Shinkan Yamazoe, 50, of Kyoto.

Eight individuals from seven different Buddhist sects, including Shinshu Otani ha, Shingon sect Buzan ha and Nichiren sect participated in the contest. Using a variety of theatrical means, including singing in time to a keyboard performance, and using a kamishibai, a kind of picture-board storytelling, each of the contestants exercised their ingenuity to convey Buddhism's appeal to the around 450 people who came to see the event. The contest was decided on by votes from the audience and a panel of five judges.

In a lecture he entitled "Everyone who laughs is Kanon," Adachi told a story about a bell-ring cricket kept at a temple and an elementary school student who kept an observation diary of it. He said, "In our everyday existence, wouldn't taking even a short amount of time to consider the importance of the life handed down to us bring a smile to our faces?"

Yonin Koike, 32, deputy chief priest at Suma-dera temple and chairman of the contest's executive committee spoke about his hopes for the initiative, saying "I want to continue to convey an image of us going beyond our individual sects and joining hands to try to communicate Buddhism."

(Japanese original by Shigeto Hanazawa, Osaka Cultural News Department)

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