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Dog Prays at Japanese Zen Temple

Posted in Personal by Will on Tuesday, March 25th, 2008 ~ 11am

I’m loving this. -Will


One-and-a-half-year old Chihuahua dog “Conan” prays with his owner and chief priest Joei Yoshikuni during a morning pray at the Shuri-Kannondo temple in Okinawa islands, southwestern Japan, Monday, March 24, 2008.(AP Photo/Itsuo Inouye)

Dog Prays at Japanese Zen Temple

NAHA, Japan — At a Zen Buddhist temple in southern Japan, even the dog prays. Mimicking his master, priest Joei Yoshikuni, a 1 1/2-year-old black-and-white Chihuahua named Conan joins in the daily prayers at Naha’s Shuri Kannondo temple, sitting up on his hind legs and putting his front paws together before the altar.

It took him only a few days to learn the motions, and now he is the talk of the town.

“Word has spread, and we are getting a lot more tourists,” Yoshikuni said Monday.

Yoshikuni said Conan generally goes through his prayer routine at the temple in the capital of Japan’s southern Okinawa prefecture (state) without prompting before his morning and evening meals.

“I think he saw me doing it all the time and got the idea to do it, too,” Yoshikuni said.

The priest is now trying to teach him how to meditate.

Well, sort of.

“Basically, I am just trying to get him to sit still while I meditate,” he explained. “It’s not like we can make him cross his legs.”


Buddhist dog prays for worldly desires
Agence France-Presse
Published: Monday March 24, 2008

Buddhists clasp their palms together to pray for enlightenment, but Conan, a chihuahua, appears to have more worldly motivations.

The dog has become a popular attraction at a Japanese temple after learning to imitate the worshippers around him.

“Conan started to pose in prayer like us whenever he wanted treats,” said Joei Yoshikuni, a priest at Jigenin temple on the southern island of Okinawa.

“Clasping hands is a basic action of Buddhist prayer to show appreciation. He may be showing his thanks for treats and walks,” he said.

Conan, a two-year-old male with long, black hair and a brown collar, sits next to Yoshikuni in front of the altar and looks right up at the statue of a Buddhist deity.

When the priest starts chanting and raises his clasped hands, Conan also raises his paws and joins them at the tip of his nose.

Visitors to the temple look on with curiosity.

“It’s so funny that he does it,” said Kazuko Oshiro, 71, who has frequented the temple for more than 25 years.

“He gets angry when somebody else sits on his favourite spot. He must be thinking that it’s his special place,” Oshiro said.

Conan, originally a temple pet, has become so popular that people come in to take pictures almost every week, the priest said.

Yoshikuni estimated that the temple receives 30 percent more visitors, especially young tourists, than it would otherwise.

“I’m glad that people feel more comfortable visiting the temple because of Conan,” he said as he jokingly joined his hands and bowed to the dog.

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