Japanese Buddhist monk Yoshinobu Fujioka enjoys bringing his congregation together, one cocktail at a time.
Fujioka owns the 23-seat “Vowz Bar” in central Tokyo, where Buddhist chants replace karaoke songs and the shaven-headed bartenders serve up sermons and homilies along with the drinks.
“People would gather in a Buddhist temple and drink together, we’ve just updated the tradition to fit our times”, said Fujioka, who also works at a temple just outside Tokyo.
“They become totally different believers here, the distance between them and myself diminishing. They are more connected with each other,” he added, dressed in traditional black robes.
Vowz Bar has been going strong for 13 years and the cocktail list includes the vodka and cognac-based “Perfect Bliss” as well as “Infinite Hell” – a vodka, raspberry liqueur and cranberry juice concoction with a splash of tonic water.
The special is called “Enslavery to Love and Lust” and costs around 800 yen ($8.51).
“Every day, my heart gets tainted by dirt in the secular world, so I come here to repurify it over some drinks and fun,” said regular patron Noriko Urai, a 42-year-old businesswoman.
“Vowz” is a play on the Japanese word for monk.