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kottke.org posts about Kodo Nishimura

Buddhist Monk and Makeup Artist Kodo Nishimura

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 02, 2020

Kodo Nishimura

Meet Kodo Nishimura, a Buddhist monk and makeup artist. Nishimura, who is gender fluid and uses he/him pronouns, struggled with his peers’ rigid concepts about gender as a teen in Japan, but found greater acceptance and a career in NYC before deciding to return to Japan to train as a monk, just as his parents had before him. As you might imagine for someone with one foot in two very different cultures, it has been difficult for Nishimura to simultaneously navigate both of those worlds and their attendant expectations.

For the next two years, Nishimura lived a double life: an openly gay makeup artist when he was in NYC and a closeted Buddhist monk trainee when he was in Japan. “I didn’t want the impression of other monks to be degraded because of me,” he recalls. It wasn’t until confiding in his master that Nishimura realized the futility of his concerns. His master expressed: “The most important message of our denomination [Pure Land Buddhism] is to let people know that we can all be saved regardless of our sexuality, gender or fashion preferences.”

You can check out more about Nishimura on his website or on Instagram. (via spoon & tamago)

Update: Thanks to Caroline and @anatsuno for some language-related feedback on this post. I added that Nishimura explicitly uses he/him pronouns and clarified that he “is gender fluid” and not just “identifies as gender fluid”.