Instead of meditating on it or relying on prayer, Buddhist monks are taking a more proactive approach to finding wives, attending matchmaking parties with daughters of temple masters.
At a recent matchmaking party on the 30th floor of a building overlooking the Rainbow Bridge and the Tokyo Tower, in the Odaiba area of Tokyo's Minato Ward, a number of men with extremely short-cropped hair in business suits attended.
"It is very hard to find a young woman who wants to marry a monk unless we take very proactive approaches in meeting such women," said a 27-year-old monk from Kurashiki, Okayama Prefecture.
Twenty-two men and 29 women, some in one-piece dresses, participated in the event.
"My father is a temple master and I have three elder sisters," said a 24-year-old woman from Ichinomiya, Aichi Prefecture, a teacher. "I want to find someone who will take over my family's temple."
A 37-year-old woman who has no family members or relatives with ties to a temple said, "If you marry a monk who owns a temple, as opposed to marrying a businessman, you do not need to worry about your husband being laid off as a result of his company's restructuring."
The woman, a company employee from Tokyo's Suginami Ward, added, "I would like to start dating if I find a monk I could love."
The matchmaking party was organized by a consultation office at Nichiren Shu Order Headquarters, located in Tokyo's Ota Ward.
The matchmaking campaign for young monks and daughters of temple masters has picked up among a number of Buddhism denominations, as finding successors to temples has become increasingly more difficult against the backdrop of Japan's graying population and fewer children.
Participants in the Nichiren Shu sect matchmaking parties are required to register with its consultation office, but can join the gatherings free of charge, where a meal and liquor are served.
Men who own a temple of the Nichiren Shu sect or otherwise retain priesthood with the sect can attend.
For women, if they are Nichiren Shu followers or their friends or family members have close relationships with the sect's temple through donations and funerals, they will be allowed to register if they obtain a recommendation letter from the sect's temple master. Five couples have married so far through this system.
Other sects have also intensified their matchmaking efforts for their young monks and have stepped up activities to help find successors for their temples.
The Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-Ha sect, a major Buddhism denomination tracing its roots to Buddhist monk Shinran (1173-1262), opened the NET Enishi matchmaking service in 2007.
Under the service, a matchmaking party was held in Kyoto last July. The service has led to 12 couples being married to date.
"Women are drawn to temple owners who are economically more stable because of other income sources such as a kindergarten or welfare facility," NET Enishi staff said.
The Shingonshu Chisan-Ha sect also started offering arranged marriage advisory services last year, prompted by the difficulty in finding successors for temples.
According to a survey it conducted in fiscal 2010, 41.9 percent of the temples in Japan have not decided on a heir to take over operations.
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