“This monk wears heels” by Hiromichi Nishimura :: Bay Area Reporter

High heels, makeup, sparkly earrings, and public declarations of membership in the LGBTQ community aren’t the first associations that come to mind when you think of Japanese monks. But Hiromichi Nishimura, 33, describes himself as quaint and trendy, defying all expectations and limitations in his mission to spread the teachings of Buddhism while inspiring people with beauty and fashion. You seem determined.

“If I can be a monk in high heels, you can be yourself,” he says.

Chosen as a Next Generation Leader by Time magazine, his 2020 Japanese book was recently retitled and translated into English, with content to further his message that diversity brings hope to the world. has been added. “This Monk Wears Heels” is part of his memoir and also a guide to self-love and self-acceptance.

This book is the most successful of Nishimura’s stories from his own compelling life. His father was a Buddhist monk, and Nishimura grew up in a Jodo sect temple in Tokyo. As a child, I enjoyed playing princesses, where the Fairy Godmother taught her classmates how to pretend to be Cinderella.

At home, she wore a miniskirt and proclaimed, “I’m a girl!” His favorite activity was dancing to the song “Bonjour” from the movie “Beauty and the Beast”.

I went to a private high school, but my classmates called me “Okama”.

“I barely survived,” he wrote. “I was always depressed and lost.

After that, he entered the Parsons School of Design in New York. Many of his peers were openly gay, so he felt safe enough to come out, and he began working as an assistant makeup artist with many models and celebrities as clients.

gender gifted

He considers himself gender gifted and transcendent of dualism.

We aim to liberate people from stereotyped lifestyles.

Very popular in his field, Nishimura is often asked to work on Miss Universe’s annual beauty pageant, as well as being on the make-up teams of Miss USA and New York Fashion Week.

He reached the height of his fame by appearing in the Netflix series Queer Eye: We’re in Japan. As an LGBTQ activist, he has spoken at Yale University, Stanford University, and the United Nations Population Fund. He’s also been profiled on CNN and he’s on the BBC.

By meeting and talking with top models in a glamorous atmosphere, Nishimura learned that beauty and confidence do not necessarily lead to happiness.

At 24, he worked up the courage to come out to his parents. His father, who is also a professor of Buddhist studies, told him to live the life he wanted. Coming to terms with his own insecurities about his roots, he said, “I envisioned myself becoming stronger as a human being by learning about Buddhism,” and that some obstacles and challenges are necessary to reach spiritual maturity.

“I want to do something that only I can do on the world stage,” he trained as a trainee. He was ordained a priest in 2015 and serves in his father’s temple.

A respected Buddhist master said, “Everyone can be liberated equally. Buddhism is accepting and does not deny anyone based on sexuality, color, ethnicity, gender or disability.” .”

As such, Nishimura does not see any conflict between Buddhism and makeup, but rather two different mediums that achieve the same end. should be confident in the existence of

Hiromichi Nishimura

flip the dharma
I wish this book was more like a memoir than a self-help guide because it’s full of generic New Age bromides of tired, repetitive clichés, like the next section’s header. is. “Don’t listen to what others say, listen to your heart” “You can’t really change other people, you can only change yourself” “Turn your weaknesses into strengths” “Everything There are dark days in the life of

This is not to say that some of this folk wisdom is not good advice, but it is written in a bland, uninspiring style. Probably lying in a grave.

Although Nishimura intersperses quotations from Buddhist texts, they are rarely commented on or incorporated into his writings. We use it in a cafeteria style similar to what we do for it. For example, his one of the central concepts of Buddhism is that there is no permanent self or essence because everything is constantly changing.

However, Nishimura’s book is almost self-deifying, arguing that Buddhism is about self-actualization and being your true self.

It’s also a bit jarring to read a section like “How to apply makeup to bring symmetry to the face” right after Dhammapada’s quote “The fragrance of virtuous people goes against the wind and spreads in all directions.”

The precepts of Buddhism are the basis of ethics, such as killing one’s life and not taking what is not given, and are applied to the five precepts of beauty makeup (base color, eyeliner, mascara, etc.). increase. change your life), perhaps unintentionally, but at the risk of dwarfing core spiritual tenets.

On a positive note, Nishimura has become a strong advocate for LGBTQ rights, especially same-sex partnerships, in this culturally conservative country. He also wants to urge politicians to change laws that protect queer people from discrimination and give young people hope that social attitudes will change. A significant number of Japanese believe that homosexuality is caused by hormone-disrupting food additives.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough, but Nishimura’s popular Buddhism-inspired wisdom — there’s no one like you, so you should be who you really are — is an excellent resource for Gen Z millennials. It will appeal to a generation of spiritual seekers and queer youth who are learning to feel comfortable expressing themselves freely… Boldly be different.

Hiromichi Nishimura’s “Monks Wearing Heels, Just As They Are”. Watkins Publishing/Penguin Random House $21.95 www.penguinrandomhouse.com


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