A few years ago, a temple called Ryohoji in Tokyo’s Hachioji district started to use moe girls – cute-sexy adolescent anime characters – to promote the temple. They put up a new sign at the entrance with moe girls explaining the temple grounds. The temple has become a minor tourist destination for pilgrimaging otaku, and is commonly known as moe-dera (“moe temple”).
Until the moe temple came along, people interested in both Buddhist iconography and youthful cartoon girls had to enjoy their two hobbies separately. But now, the clever people at Ryohoji have come up with this official moe figure of Benzaiten. Maybe they thought the goddess needed a little anime improvement…
Benzaiten (sometimes just Baiten) is a Japanese Buddhist goddess, originating from the Hindu goddess Saraswati. Here’s what she usually looks like:
And here she is in moe form:
Standing at 21cm tall, Toro bentenzou (とろ弁天像) is a 1/8 scale model of…well, we’re not sure what of, actually, as there doesn’t appear to be a full-size statue in the temple. We’re sure it’s only a matter of time though. The figurines are the work of figure designer Takeshi Miyagawa, based on original illustrations by Toromi.
▼ Wikipedia, incidentally, calls Benzaiten “the goddess of everything that flows”. Just sayin’.
If you’ve been staring at that empty space on your shelf, debating whether to fill it with a Buddhist statue or a sexy anime figure, the Ryohoji official website is taking pre-orders now. A limited number of figures will also be available at the Hachioji Ichou festival on November 15. At 12,960 yen (US $119), the price isn’t exactly heavenly, though.
This isn’t the first wacky venture from Tokyo’s anime temple – they’ve also launched a Buddhism-themed smartphone game in the past, and last year they opened a maid café in the temple grounds. We have to admire their originality!
▼ Entrance to the anime temple.
▼ The temple sign with Toromi’s original moe girl artwork.