Buddhism professes that a life free of material desires will lead to happiness.
But for this ordained monk, one material desire might be an unconventional alternative toward true enlightenment: makeup.
Enter Kodo Nishimura, a 26-year-old Tokyo-based Buddhist monk who was ordained in 2015. He’s also been working as a makeup artist for celebrities and campaigns, including the Miss Universe pageant.
It all started when he “helped a friend with her makeup and saw how happy it made her,” reported BuzzFeed News.
For most Buddhists, however, the desire to look pretty and wear makeup, even if it’s just for yourself, is still considered a material attachment. Until you rid yourself of all attachments, the belief is you won’t reach enlightenment and be forced to reincarnate for all eternity.
It was for that reason Nishimura was tentative to continue his passion for makeup after joining the Buddhist monastery.
Surprisingly, it was his mentor who not only gave him his blessing but encouraged Nishimura to do so.
“It isn’t wrong if it helps you deliver your message to people,” he says.
Nishimura also came out as a member of the queer community after participating in a photoshoot for ‘Out in Japan’, an LGBT+ magazine.
Since then, he’s used his platform to work with the Japanese transgender community, offering free makeup seminars for the local LGBT+ community.
“When I participated in the ‘Out in Japan’ photo shoot, I met a lot of transgender people. Many of them weren’t familiar with makeup, so I wished I could give them advice,” he says.
“As a Buddhist monk, I want everyone to live happily in harmony,” says Nishimura. “I believe makeup is one of the tools to make yourself happy, and if you’re happy, it becomes easier to be kind to others. In that sense, I think it’s a good link.”