In an attempt to attract younger visitors, particularly women to its grounds, Kokujoji Temple in Niigata Prefecture has installed panels of an art series titled “Ikemen Kanno Emaki” (Scroll of Handsome and Sensual Men) within the temple. Head priest Kotetsu Yamada says that he wants to dispel the old-fashioned and boring image of the temple to appeal in particular to young women, and so the temple has teamed up with Kyoto-born artist Ryoko Kimura to create scrolls of art depicting five famous historical and mythical figures -- bathing naked together.
The scrolls match up perfectly with Ryoko Kimura's specialty, which includes replacing the courtesans and other women in found in traditional Japanese art with handsome men, of erotic art.
The artwork features handsome anime-style depictions Uesugi Kenshin (a 16th century warlord), Musashibo Benkei (a brigand monk), Ryokan Taigu (a Zen master) Minamoto no Yoshitsune (a 12th century general) , and Shuten Doji (a drunken demon leader) naked, with deliberately placed flowers and towels covering their privates. All five figures have some historical relevance to the temple.
However, according to the Asahi Shimbun, while the artwork seems to have drawn in visitors, it's also stirred up controversy. Members of the city's board of education state that the temple did not file to receive permission to install the artwork, which is required when making changes to a cultural party. As such, the board has told the temple to remove the panel, and further stated that they were inappropriate for children.
Kokujoji Temple has responded firmly, saying that they intend to keep the artwork displayed, even if it means losing their status as a cultural property.
Source: PR Times
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