Light & Techno for Shukavati

Buddhist temples are the last place you’d imagine going to enjoy techno music and bathe in a kaleidoscope of psychedelic lights, but at Shōonji in Fukui Prefecture, there’s a rather unique memorial service held to the smooth beats of techno tracks.

Since October 2016, abbot Gyosen Asakura has been holding techno Buddhist memorial services at his temple, which began as an effort to attract more visitors and evoke the interests of Japan’s younger generations toward religion. Combining multicolored lights, projection mapping, and techno music, Asakura has conjured up a modern, quite unconventional way to make his temple and services feel more accessible to the wider public.

Though this techno Buddhist memorial service might not be everyone’s cup of tea, Asakura asserts that despite his unorthodox ways, this new type of service is simply a modernized recreation of the image of the Pure Land of Perfect Bliss, which traditional decorations inside temples are meant to represent. Thus, he is only interpreting the divine land of Amida Buddha in a way that could resonate with more people.

After someone saw how the gold leaf on altars can shine so beautifully when bathed in light, people started to illuminate it with candle flames.

If the olden days found their lighting through candles, Asakura thought modern times could find its lighting through colorful illuminations.
— Abbot Gyosen Asakura