Bonji Cafe Latte Gains PopularityGuardian Deities in Latte, Enryakuji Temple's Precincts
A teahouse at Enryakuji Temple, the head temple of the Tendai Buddhist Sect, located in Sakamoto Honmachi, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture, started providing "Bonji Latte," which has a Sanskrit character floating on the surface of a cafe latte, and it is gaining popularity among visitors. After asking customers the Japanese zodiac signs which correspond to their birth years, waiters draw Sanskrit characters representing each guardian deity. "We hope that a cup of coffee can make a visitor feel happy," said a representative.
The teahouse "Reiho" inside "Enryakuji Kaikan," the temple's lodgings, began serving it in mid-August. Powdered cocoa is sprinkled to form of a Sanskrit character over the surface of foamed milk floating on the coffee.
There are Sanskrit characters which represent various Buddhist guardians. For example, the years of the Tiger and the Ox correspond to the Sanskrit character "Trāḥ" representing Akasagarbha, and the year of the Rooster corresponds to the Sanskrit character "Hāṃ" representing Acala. Gyokai Imadegawa, the temple's worship director, proposed creating a menu unique to Enryakuji Temple. He made repeated trials, changing the amount of milk, type of powder and so on, as well as making plastic plates cut into the form of Sanskrit characters by himself, and managing to successfully sell lattes.
The coffee has been popular even during the hot summer season, so they sometimes receive orders for nearly 50 cups in a day. Director Imadegawa said, "We want visitors to know their own guardian deities and enjoy a happy moment as they have a drink." One cup costs 650 yen.(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)