The monk who’s a make-up artist – Kodo Nishimura

Kodo Nishimura really changes the perception of a traditional Buddhist monk because he’s also an international make-up artist. His extraordinary life and cult following on social media has recently caused a media storm as he hit the headlines for being one of the make-up artists at Miss Universe in Manila.

This lifestyle didn’t immediately come to Kodo. He grew up in the Buddhist temple in Tokyo where his father was a monk and a lecturer. It was after a stint studying fine art at Boston University that he discovered make-up and a bout of home-sickness that drew him back to Japan to study as a monk.

In a recent Times article he is quoted as saying ‘When the people around me are happy, I am happy’. This is what hooked me. He seems very happy despite balancing two very extreme lifestyles. Between shows he prays and chants and other times he wears heels and enjoys helping his girlfriends with their make-up.

His happy demeanour and balanced life is a breath of fresh air compared to the negative social media stories that are usually circulated. Kodo even has the support of his Buddhist master who says that it’s OK to be dressed up and so make up as long as he spreads a message. Not that Kodo needs validation or approval to be who he wants to be but, it’s great to hear that’s the feeling from the authoritative people that guide him.

This story promotes the message that you can be whoever you want to be, without sacrifice, this is a strong message, especially in the age of Internet trolls. It is about diversity and acceptance and is a welcome break to the tedious negativity that usually grace the newspapers.

Kodo’s master is right in another way, his life and subsequent media attention promotes a wonderful message regardless of religion.

The message is powerful, peaceful and refreshing. I hope it brings you as much happiness that it brings me. Every time he pops up on my Instagram feed it gives me strength and reminds me that I can be as diverse as I want, it’s OK.

I’m not entirely sure what I’m trying to convey here, other than getting across that it’s a great story and message. Sometimes we all need to hear a great story with a great message, a shot of positivity to take you out of yourself.

Public relations is all about conveying messages and I feel there’s more to this story than I’m managing to get across. Perhaps it’s the combination of people power, diversity and positive messages in this story that make it so effective. Maybe PR professionals can learn from how this message is conveyed and adopt it into their story-telling repertoire or use it to think of different approaches to campaigns.

What do you think about Kodo’s life? How does this story make you feel? What take home value do you get from this story? If you work in PR or the creative industries does it give you ideas about how to approach messages and stories differently? (or is it just me!)

I really hope that even if you didn’t understand my ramblings at the end of this post that you enjoyed Kodo’s story and message.

Here is Kodo’s website and two Instagram accounts should you want to keep up with his story and read more.

Kodo Nishimura







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