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Japan: The Buddha girls

They call them ‘Buddha girls’ (仏女 butsujo), Japanese ladies in their 30s or 40s passionate about visiting temples and admiring statues of Buddha and Bodhisattva.
The ‘Buddha girls’ or ‘Buddha statue girls’ exchange suggestions on the best spots where to meet the wooden idols or the exhibitions that bring the Buddhist art around the country. Often they are also very keen on the history and anecdotes regarding monks and sacred writings.

By Flickr user id: MR+G

By Flickr user id: MR+G

mikli gives a simple explanation of what a ‘Buddha statue girl’ or ‘Buddha girl’ is.

実は、ここ1年くらい 仏像ガール だったりもします
そう、仏像ガール  仏像みたいな女の子・・・ではありません
まぁ簡単なお話、仏像萌え~  な女子です。
近い将来、菩薩になりたいと思っています。如来はイヤだ。
まだまだオシャレもしたいし
で、最近髪の毛も伸ばし始めました。そう、菩薩みたいに髪の毛盛りたいから

I have been a Buddha Statue Girl for one year. A Buddha Statue Girl is not a girl that resembles a statue of Buddha. In a few words, she is a girl who falls for statues of Buddha. In the near future, I'd like to become a Bodhisattva not a Tathagata. I still want to take care of my looks. And recently, I began to grow my hair long. I want to look like a bodhisattva.

私のごく親しい人の中では、ここ数年かなり仏像ブームなんですけど
世間一般ではどうなんでしょうか  
まぁ仏像ガールなんて言葉も出ているくらなので、
流行最先端  ってことにしておきましょう。えぇそうしましょう

Among my friends for a few years the ‘Buddha Statue boom’ has spread but who knows about the other people?!!
Recently this new word, Buddha statue girl has been created, so I guess it's the latest trend. Yes, let's say it is.

Rentaro wonders if she belongs to the category and must be considered in the category of ‘Buddha girl’, only because she appreciates habits related to the Buddhist culture.

私、結構、仏女かな。。。。。
お香の匂い嗅ぐと落ち着くし
最近、字がヘタすぎるので
習い出したら書くと心穏やかになって
何時間も書いちゃうし

でも阿修羅像とか
そんなに詳しくない
教科書に出てくるような有名なお坊様でも
よくわかってない
でも
御朱印集めるのハマって
お寺巡っちゃうし

I really am a Buddha girl…maybe
As soon as I smell incense, I feel calm
And recently since I decided to take calligraphy because my writing is a disaster, my heart felt relieved and I couldn't stop writing
Oh, but I am not an expert on Ashura statues and such
I don't even know all the famous monks that are often mentioned in the school books
However I have a passion for collecting goshuin [official letter bearing the scarlet seal of the shogun] and I like going for temples

[…]

これって要するに仏教だけど
宗教にハマっているってことになるのかな?
仏教だとそんなに抵抗ないし
グッズとか
写経とか
違う意味でブームなんだろうな
にしても
本当に携わっている方にはご迷惑なことなんだろうか
関心を持ってもらう意味ではよいきっかけなんだろうか
でもなんでこんな名前
ぶつじょ?にょ?ってどうよ(-_-;)
誰がつけたんだろ

All this in few words is Buddhism but does it probably mean that I am into the religion?
I am not against it but it is more a boom related to purchasing Buddhist goods, or reading sutra, I would say.
Nonetheless it's probably trouble for the people of the temples,isn't it? Or is it a good opportunity to spread the word?
But why this name? Butsujo? or nyo?
Who invented such a name??!
By Flickr user id: papadont

By Flickr user id: papadont

The website Buddha-girl [ja], managed by the increasingly popular 30 year old Hirose Ikumi (廣瀬郁実), has advice for young Buddha fans with suggestions on the best temples and statues of the country.

For the month of October the tip is Daikoji temple (醍醐寺) and its statue of Yakushi Nyorai (薬師如来) in Kyoto:

いろんなところで秋の特別公開が始まっていますが、醍醐寺もそのひとつ。1年に2度だけ公開される霊宝館で、ステキなお薬師さまにお会いできます!私は大学生のときに一度博物館でお会いしたきりだったのですが、どっしりとした存在感と力強いお顔がずっと印象に残っていました。今回の特別公開でひさしぶりにお会いして、やっぱりステキ・・と実感!

In many places, special openings for the fall season has already started and Daikoji temple is one of those. In the Reihokan that is opened to public only twice a year, you will be able to meet the splendid Yakushi! When I was a university student I met Him only once in a museum but His powerful and dignified face left in me a deep impression. On the occasion of its opening to public I have finally met Him after a long time and I realized again that…He is really splendid!

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