Well Dubstep, you had a good run but it’s time to drop out and make way for a new genre of dance music straight from the Buddhist temples of Japan: Dubsutra.
Okay, so maybe I just made that word up, but it is a real thing thanks to Tariki Echo, a musical unit fronted by two Japanese, bike helmet-wearing monks who have turned the Buddhist sutra into dance music.
Ippei Tatsuyama and Akira Emoto met 20 years ago while they were students at Tokyo Bukkyo Gakuin, a college for those aspiring to become head priests in the Jōdo Shinshū sect of Buddhism located in the Tsukiji Hongan-ji temple. In addition to normal lectures concerning Buddhist studies, sutra recitation and everything else you need to know to run a temple, the college also offers a course on Buddhist music. Ippei and Akira were both enrolled in the class and, having both played music in a band before meeting, quickly hit it off thanks to their mutual love of music.
In a recent interview with ITMedia, the two recall that they would often stay in the temple’s music room after classes playing together until the security guard had to come and kick them out.
It was during one of these sessions that they began talking about using sutra in place of lyrics for music and they even played in front of an audience for the first time during at a Buddhist youth group meeting at the temple.
However, the formation of Tariki Echo would come later as the two went their separate ways after graduation. Ippei returned home to take over his father’s post as head priest at Ryukyou-ji temple in Shimane prefecture but recently moved to Tokyo, where he helps out at a relative’s temple while also working as a keyboardist and composer.
Akira remained in Tokyo to continue his education of Buddhist sutra and traditional Japanese court music before becoming head priest at Zengyou-ji temple in Saitama prefecture.
Finally, 20 years after graduation, the two were reunited by chance in Tokyo and formed Tariki Echo, releasing their first CD, “Buddha Sound”, on March 21.
Akira, who once found things like religion and Buddhist sutra unpleasant until he began studying them on his own, hopes their music will reach the ears of those who would normally have no association with the Buddhist scriptures.
While sutra recitation is usually associated with a somewhat dark, monotonic chanting, Akira explains that some sutra have a unique, melodious intonation and that he believes there is something captivating in them as a part of traditional Japanese culture.
Tariki Echo plan to continue making music until their fusion of sutra and dance becomes recognized as a new genre. They’ve already been met with a positive response from others in the Buddhist community, who praise their efforts to introduce Buddhist sutra to the mainstream through music.
Source: IT Media (Japanese)