Get Served by a Monk at Tokyo's Vowz Bar

Photo of Alicia Joy
Tokyo Writer9 May 2018

Vowz Bar spreads the joy and teachings of the Buddha in the most unusual way – by mixing it up with alcohol.

Vowz Bar combines daily prayer ceremonies and original cocktail recipes, all under one roof. Founded by two Pure Land Buddhist monks in 2000, the goal was to make Buddhism approachable and to integrate it back into the community, the way it used to be hundreds of years ago. People are encouraged to come here after a hard day and find solace in the Buddha’s teachings along with their happy hour cocktails.

The owner is of the Jodo Shinshu, also known as Pure Land or Shin Buddhism, sect, the most widespread Buddhist sect in all of Japan. But all sects, schools and factions of Buddhism are welcomed here, and the staff consists of monks from the Shingon and Soto sects as well. Like many small pubs and bars, patrons are invited to talk with the bartenders about their troubles. But here, the staff are happy to offer advice from their unique perspective, dispel myths about their way of life and share the teachings of Buddha with you.

According to the Vowz Bar’s master, the teachings of the Buddha contain plenty of clues of how to achieve happiness. And the path to enlightenment can begin right now. But that doesn’t stop the monks from giving the cocktails playful names like Mugen Jigoku, or The Hell of Unending Suffering – cleverly named after one of the eight hells of Pure Land Buddhism.

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