Faces of Japan #15: Matsumoto

The most important thing in travelling for me is not to see all the must-see sights, it is way more the ability to talk to people. Talk to strangers, hear their stories, get inspired by them and inspire them. One of these people was Matsumoto. I met him in a temple in Kyoto by sheer coincidence. Matsumoto is a Buddhist monk, but decided to take a break from his life as a monk at Komyoji temple in Tokyo to attend a one-year MBA programme in India. With his newly acquired management skills he came back to Japan and realized that temples are not what they used to be in the past. Previously temples were not only religious places but also community and commercial centres of villages and towns. Matsumoto wants to changes this again, and wants to help temples to transform into a more relevant place within Japanese society, a place where people can achieve their spiritual awakening. 

The main problem nowadays is that temples are very closed to the outside and not influencing the society. In Japan there are 70.000 to 80.000 temples - this is more than convenience stores - but in contrast these stores make a huge impact in the everyday life of people. Matsumoto's main goal is that temples give value to people, and he tries to reach that by offering business education to temples and monks all over Japan.

At his own temple for example he started a "temple cafe", where people can gather and learn about Buddhism. Matsumoto believes that templese are a real social media, in the sense that they are a really good place to communicate new values and develop self-awareness, He believes that temples can be a starting point for re-energising Japan.