World Radio and TV

Working Lives Kyoto

The Reverend Takafumi Kawakami is deputy head monk of the Shunko-in Buddhist Temple.

The elaborate wooden building and beautiful Japanese gardens date back to the 1590s.

The temple has been in his family for generations, but he did not always intend to follow his ancestors into the priesthood. That decision was made while he was at college in the United States.

The job involves religious duties, chanting and leading ceremonies, but also the upkeep of the building. He describes it as being like a curator.

A big concern for Rev Kawakami is finding $2-3m to restore the temple roof. It needs to be done once a century or so and the task has fallen to his generation.

He holds meditation classes in English and performs weddings to supplement the temple's income from its members and local families. They use the temple to hold funerals and memorial services.

Rev Kawakami is married to an American and the family home is in the temple grounds.