Dec 18 2012 27 CommentsJapanese Shinto priest: A portrait The serenity. Solemnity. Not to mention incredible intensity. Of a Shinto priest.
Exceptional! Your photos often make me think of the 1950’s and 60’s National Geographic pics when the world was still relatively wide and mysterious.
Thank you very much, that’s very kind of you.
Was that the nearest you got to a smile?
He looks a bit tense under the watchful eye of your lens -esp. the hand.
His expression didn’t change at all, although I did actually ask if it was ok if I took his picture, something I very rarely do. He nodded ever so slightly, and that was it. Otherwise he was just like a statue. Albeit a potentially tense one.
It is a wonderful picture, but my first thought
‘I’m still not sure of the Lexus maybe I should go for the BMW’
Is maybe due to lack of sleep (It’s 05:00 here)
I was told that Japanese priests (although that was the Buddhist variety) prefer BMWs, so he may have been torn between tradition and buying domestic! That said, he does look a bit on the young side. The luxury car could be a few years away yet.
Classic again. How old you think is this kid?
Cheers! Not so old, is he? Mid-20s perhaps?
Nice picture! 🙂
He clenched his left fist due to coldness or nervous?
Thank you! Coldness, hopefully. He has to sit there for a good while, so it’d be nice to think he’s at least relaxed.
Why the monk career path? makes you wonder…
Hmm, good point. Can’t say I’ve heard many young people expressing a desire to become a monk or priest. Following in a family tradition perhaps? Or in the current climate, job security?
Great shot 🙂
An Expat says
Seems to me he’s in need of a quick-acting, effective laxative.
Or a very warm coat.
Oh you nailed it. “Intense” was the first word that came to mind when I saw that photo. Great shot!
Thank you. Yes, it’s quite a stare, isn’t it?
Hans ter Horst says
Fabulous! As for career path, we had a chat about that with a Buddhist monk when we had our temple stay at Koya-san (incredible experience, recommended BTW) and the young monk who served us and explained the ceremony we would be attending the next morning was rather chatty so I got him to talk about why he had chosen for a life of monk. Basically he was fed up with being a salaryman and had gone into a retreat in a monastery once for several months and after he got back to the office, he just longed going back and after a few more years he did. From what I have seen of the life of a salaryman, it does make sense 🙂
Interesting. And yes, considering the working life a lot of salarymen appear to lead, I can understand his choice. I read something similar a while ago. Former salarymen who jacked it all in and moved to the country to become farmers. A few younger people had made the same choice as well. Not an easy life by any stretch of he imagination, but one they got more out of. Good on them.
An Expat says
As a former salaryman-in Japan- one thing I have puzzled over is why some Japanese women have demanded being put on the same career track as their male salarymen. Putting workplace equality aside for a moment, the life of a salaryman for the most part is not all that enviable, one, so why aspire to such???
Good point. maybe there should be a bisexual revolution. Now that would turn up the shirts in old Japan!
PERFECT portrait lee! thanks!
Thanks. You are welcome!
It must be a fairly attractive way of life for someone who likes spending time in their own head, looking at the world from outside; around these parts, you’d find many young men and women of the scholarly type joining the ranks. Quite likely, each personal story is differentâ€¦ Understandably, the larger the monastic community, the more likely everyone else is to know what such life is like and the more mainstream the choice.
Lee, I imagine the Japanese are by and large familiar with the lives of monksâ€¦ Your take ?
p.s. Wrongly, I have also posted this on another thread [‘Japan Votes’] … Sorry for the mess !
No problem at all, I’ll just delete the other one.
Yes, to a relatively small minority, such a lifestyle is very appealing I would imagine. And as mentioned in previous comments, it’s also one escape route from the daily grind and pressures of being a salaryman. That said, I’m not sure how familiar most Japanese are to such a lifestyle, particularly as it’s far from the norm. Perhaps a bit less so a Buddhist priest. A profession that, if I’m not mistaken, is sometimes passed down from father to son. There can be a huge financial reward too if there is a temple involved.
For those opting for the life of a monk, however, I have very little knowledge about those who have made such a decision, and why. Getting a few answers though would be very interesting, as in modern Tokyo, such a choice seems so out of step with everything else. It’s not a choice I’d ever consider, but I have huge admiration for those who do. Judging from a lot of things I see and hear, they are quite possible happier too.