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CSR Turned Upside Down – Why Kyoto’ temples want to give back to the meetings industry

In a reversal to the normally accepted rules of CSR, temples in

Kyoto, Japan are seeking to give back to the business community through involvement with events.

With more UNESCO world heritage sites than any other city in the world, Kyoto is home to more than 2,000 temples and shrines – many of which have become available for corporate events over the last few years.

In fact, the one experience that defines meeting events in Kyoto is the complete immersion in Japanese heritage via a reception or dinner at a Buddhist temple. Kyoto Convention Bureau has assisted numerous successful events in their approach and work with these bastions of Kyoto society.

Kyoto Convention Bureau, international marketing manager, James Kent:  “As an intrinsic part of Kyoto’s society, the temples have recognised that by working together, the whole community can encourage visitors to the city, which in turn improves the quality of life and our economic success.  The temple experience is fundamental to any event taking place in our city so their interest and involvement has always been vital.  The fact that so many temples are now wishing to get involved is great news for the city as a whole and we look forward to more engaging with the Kyoto Convention Bureau in the near future.”

Reverend Matsuyama, a Zen Buddhist priest: “The meetings industry is one of the most powerful and impactful in the world.  If temples work more closely with the industry it provides an opportunity for them to spread their own messages whilst bringing in revenues that can help the temple maintain itself and grow in an ever changing world.  Last year we announced our meditation program to help meetings improve through delegate preparedness.  This has been incredibly successful and we are delighted to see so many other temples taking on board the benefits of working with this dynamic industry.”

Three key temples have outlined their reasons for becoming involved with events as follows:

Ninnaji Temple – Head Temple of Omuro School of Shingon Sect of Buddhism

“Ninnaji Temple was founded in A.D. 888 by the 59th emperor, Uda. Consequently it houses many artefacts that have shaped Japan’s history and culture.  Organisers have noted the ability of the temple to add something truly special to the atmosphere of their event. The temple is a place for spiritual activity, study and education – all of which are reflected in the events taking place here. Moreover we have been fortunate to welcome organisers and attendees that respect the temple’s role in maintaining Kyoto’s culture for future generations.”

Daikakuji Temple – Head Temple of Esoteric Buddhism (Former Saga Imperial Palace)

“This temple has been fortunate to be the scene of a large number of national and international gatherings in recent years. These have ranged for networking receptions to a kimono fashion show. The temple is often referred to as Saga Gosho or Imperial Palace of Saga, which alludes to more than 1,200 years of history in the temple.  By attending events here our guests can touch Kyoto’s history and witness the beliefs of the temple’s founder emperor Saga (A.D.837-A.D.842) and his religious teacher, the priest Kobo Daishi. Through these means, we hope to connect great Kyoto traditions with the whole world for many years.”

Kennininji – Head Temple of Rinzai School of Zen Buddhism

“Kenninji temple first played host to a large reception party in the autumn of 2008 when 500 scientists, politicians and business leaders gathered here for a function. The temple grounds witnessed intense discussion and enthusiastic networking that evening. It is an honour for this temple to have a supporting role in such important international relationship building.”

“This reception was only possible because of the great care the organiser took of our treasure house and the deep understanding of all those involved that this was not an everyday function venue, but an important Buddhist institution. The event was proof of what can be achieved when the temple joins hands with local authorities like the convention bureau and wins the cooperation of production companies that are sensitive to the needs of the temple as well as their clients. It is wonderful that the temple can be appreciated by so many distinguished guests from around the world as they enjoy Kyoto’s special heritage in a unique way.”


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