Chinese New Year Concert Heightens Demand for Kanho Yakushiji, Japan’s EDM Monk

Mainland fans are eager for the return of Yakushiji, who melds Buddhist sutras with rock, hip hop, and electronic music

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2:41 PM HKT, Tue February 27, 2024 1 mins read

While most stayed up late this Chinese New Year’s Eve to watch the Spring Festival Gala on TV, some 210K+ Chinese netizens devoted their night to a soul-nourishing electronic Heart Sutra concert streaming on their devices.

The concert itself was held at Beigang Wude Temple in Yunlin County in Taiwan by Kanho Yakushiji, a Japanese singer and the lead monk of Kaizenji Temple.

Responding the unexpected combination of popular music and Buddhist sutras, often thought to be monotone, viewers commented, “Really pleasant to the ear” and “So talented.” Concertgoers also expressed similar feelings, “It’s refreshing to hear someone combine the Heart Sutra and EDM.”

Growing up, Yakshuji believed that he could only choose either the path of religion or the path of music. After realizing that Buddhist sutras and music both aim to lighten heavy hearts, he started to fuse sutras with rock and electronic music.

Yearning for the same revitalizing experience, Chinese netizens have flooded the comment sections of Yakushiji’s recent online posts with demands for more shows. “We also want to hear your melodies,” cried one Weibo user. “You must come to the mainland this year,” another user commented. Some netizens even announced their commitment: “Waiting for you in Beijing.”

In fact, the monk held concerts in the Chinese mainland just last year. His shows were so popular that many fans clamored for more, leaving comments like “Didn’t get the tickets; can you add one more concert in Shanghai please?” and “One more at Shenzhen!” Unfortunately, his scheduled concerts in first-tier cities, including Shanghai, were cancelled. Recently, Yakushiji has shared updates less frequently on Chinese social media platforms due to regulations on religious activity.

Despite these obstacles, Yakushiji has still presented netizens with unexpected new songs. In his latest post on Bilibili, shared on February 24, the monk collaborated with Namo Band (南无乐队, Namo Yuedui) to present a slow rock version of the Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Dharani. Within 24 hours, his post surged with over 20K views.

Yakushiji's slow rock performance of Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Dharani

Yakushiji’s performance of the Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Dharani. Image via Bilibili.

In another post, the monk surprised his fans with a performance in Chinese of the poem “Looking at Fuji from Zhongshan Ridge” by Master Yinyuan Longqi (Ingen Ryūki), a Chinese monk who migrated to Japan in the 17th century.

‘Looking at Fuji from Zhongshan Ridge’ cover by Yakushiji

Still from the music video of Yakushiji’s cover of “Looking at Fuji from Zhongshan Ridge.” Image via Bilibili.

As Chinese fans await the possibility of more Yakushiji concerts on the mainland, his music remains available on YouTube and Spotify, as well as Chinese streaming services.

Banner image via YouTube.

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