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Buddhist priest in southwest Japan takes to YouTube to share teachings amid virus

Hidetaka Oe, deputy head priest at Kenmyoji temple in Buzen, Fukuoka Prefecture, records a video in the city on April 28, 2020. (Mainichi)

FUKUOKA -- In the southwestern Japan prefecture of Fukuoka, a Buddhist priest dressed in his religious robes sits alone, facing a video camera.

"Even regarding arguments between siblings, I think it's OK as long as it's a gentle argument in which you kindly convey your own feelings," he says.

The man, Hidetaka Oe, 37, deputy head priest at Kenmyoji temple in the city of Buzen, is giving a speech of around 10 minutes destined for YouTube. He has been relaying the teachings of Buddhism and attitudes of the heart on the video-sharing site, with particular attention to those shut in their homes due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Oe started full-scale video recording in March, deciding that if it was not possible to hold gatherings of adherents at the temple because of the coronavirus, then he would talk about Buddhism online. He records and edits the videos by himself. This particular day he was talking about concerns raised by children, in a question-and-answer format.

With stress levels expected to increase amid prolonged self-imposed restraints over the coronavirus pandemic, Oe comments, "I want people other than adherents to also take an interest in Buddhism. I hope they can watch the videos and get a sense of relief."

(Japanese original by Toyokazu Tsumura, Kyushu Photo Department)

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