August 20th, 2020
A Japanese Zen Buddhist monk named Yogetsu Akasaka has recently gone viral with his beatboxing skills, but it is a skill that he has been developing for a long time. It came as a surprise to many people that a monk would be interested in something like beatboxing, but for the most part, monks are people with interests just like the rest of us.
Akasaka says that he has been beatboxing since long before he became a monk, and that he first became interested in learning how to do it because he was astonished that people could make music with their mouths.
“It’s not that I wanted to gain attention for my ‘uniqueness,’ I just wanted to continue my passion for music. In the same way someone plays the guitar or the drums, I myself am just a normal performer…My friend had given me a CD of a Japanese beatboxer named Afra and said that he was performing using his mouth. I was absolutely shocked that people could do such things, and so I was interested in trying it. And then I realised, I was pretty good at it,” he said in an interview with Vice.
Akasaka began beatboxing about 15 years ago, when he was in his early 20s. He has only been a monk for about 5 years, which was a path that he chose to follow in the footsteps of his father. Before he was a monk, he traveled the world beatboxing on the streets for crowds in Japan, Australia, and the United States
“Usually in Japan, people become monks because their family lives in a temple. But for my father, he was just a normal person who decided to become a monk. I was inspired, and decided I wanted to succeed in my father’s current role as an abbot in a temple in the Iwate Prefecture,” he said.
Akasaka said that he wanted to create upbeat and inspiring music, especially because monks are often thought to be solemn.
“I think in Japan, people often associate Buddhism with funerals, and the sutra has a little bit of a negative and sad image,” Akasaka said.
“I have had fans tell me that they were able to sleep well and relax due to my beatboxing videos, which is absolutely amazing. I am honored to be able to combine my passion with my religious beliefs, and that this has impacted people around the world,” he added.