Amazon's rent-a-Buddhist-monk service causes controversy in Japan

There has been much controversy in Japan over Amazon allowing a provider to offer "Obo-san bin," or "Mr. Monk Delivery," on its website. These Monk delivery services have started because Japan’s temples are losing offerings and business with members in their communities. Communities in Japan have received their main source of financial support through the temples, so this new service has created issues for them. A major Buddhist organization has criticized Amazon for commercializing religion. The Tokyo-based provider Minrevi Co. is offering a basic plan for monk that would cost 35,000 yen ($300). In comparison, Buddhist-style memorial services offered by temples could cost as much as 100,000 yen ($830). Minrevi spokesman Jumpei Masano says, "Many people don't have ties with temples and they have no idea where and how to arrange Buddhist rituals, while monks are increasingly concerned about their declining temple membership," Masano said. "We can cater to the needs on both sides and hopefully we can bring them together."

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