Friday , July 30 2021

Japanese monks who like make-up

As make-up artist Kodo Nishimura sashays to a room in Tokyo that was balanced with thin heels, he almost did not look like a practicing monk.

Neat makeup, smoky eyeshadow, false eyelashes and winged eyeliner, he changed clothes three times during the presentation for star-eyed fans.

But in a Tokyo temple where his father was a chief monk and he helped in the ritual, he seemed to change. His face was naked, and he wore a plain robe of a Buddhist scholar.

This may seem like an unusual double act, but it doesn't bother Nishimura, who is 29 years old.

"This is who I am," he said. "I will not try to be something else."

Mr. Nishimura was primarily a make-up artist, beautifying clients ranging from popstars to contest contestants.

He spent most of the year in the US, where he first publicly indulged the desire for makeup that he kept secret as a child in Japan, hiding in the bathroom to experiment. "I will open my mother's Chanel eyeshadow palette and I will try to put it on my face. But I look crazy, I look like a clown, "he laughed.

Studying in the US, he found different things. He found a pull queen who worked in a makeup shop who was happy to answer his questions. At 18, he made the first purchase: mascara and eyeliner.

Internships with make-up artists lead to work. Back home, his parents surprised him by supporting his career choices.

'A liberation'

But he felt something was missing. He grew up in a Buddhist temple, played behind his elaborate golden altar and knew that one day he had to decide whether to follow in his father's footsteps.

"I want to know the job, what we do, enough to make a decision."

So at the age of 24, he enrolled in a training program in his Buddhist Pure Land sect. This involves five sessions, each of several weeks, spread over about two years.

In New York, he wears makeup and jewelry, works as a make-up artist and is open about his interests in men.

Will all that "touch on the community of Buddhist monks?" He wondered.

But a senior monk dismissed his worries, pointing out that Japanese monks often wore non-religious clothing outside the temple and had a second job. And he is not interested in his sexuality.

"It's like a release for me," Nishimura said. "That's when I felt: & # 39; now I can be myself and become a monk too. & # 39;"

He acknowledged that his work as a make-up artist, with his focus on outward appearances, might appear to be contrary to a religion that prioritizes the mind.

"I think in the Buddha's teaching the core message is to feel happiness, feel balanced in our hearts and share happiness," he said.

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