Ash-struck Monk

A few days ago, I just finished watching a ten episode Japanese romantic comedy series called “From Five to Nine”. It is quite recent, and it is an adaptation of the popular manga with the same title by the author Miki Aihara. In it, the male protagonist, Hoshikawa Takane is a monk who instantly falls in love with Sakuraba Junko, an English teacher at a conversation academy, after she knocks over a bowl of ashes on his head during a funeral service. With an entertaining and refreshing storyline, this Japanese drama provides a great way to pass time. Not to mention that it also contains multiple interesting characters, such as the not so ordinary monk, whom I will be analyzing in this post.

To begin with, Takane is a 30-year-old monk who comes from a rich background, and works full time as a priest by hosting and attending ceremonies as well as funerals. Because he is the eldest son in the family, he is expected to inherit the household property as well as to become the next chief priest of his family’s temple, which is situated in Tokyo and known as the Ikkyo Temple. He is often portrayed as a highly educated, tall and handsome monk who has graduated from one of the top elite universities of Japan: the University of Tokyo. However, he has very little experience outside of temple duties, and has a hard time expressing his emotions to the people around him. This is mainly due to the fact that his grandmother took him under her wing at a very young age, and made him undergo a very strict training in order to become the next successful heir of temple after his parents passed away in an accident. As a result, at the beginning, he is somewhat socially awkward, and spends most of his time alone in the temple. It wasn’t until he meets the female protagonist that his personality started to change. In fact, personality wise, he can be described as a calm, hardworking, responsible, confident, quiet, caring, persistent, straightforward and brutally honest person who always wears a stoic expression on his face.

In addition, although Buddhist monks and priests are always thought to be either bald or have closely cropped hair, it is not the case for Takane, for he is quite particular in his own way. Indeed, he sports a very stylish and trendy black hairstyle that reaches the back of his nape, and has a side swept bang at the front that reaches past his eyebrows, and covers his left eye from time to time. Furthermore, despite the fact that everyone else around him is wearing trendy and fashionable clothes, he is constantly dressed in traditional Japanese attires throughout the ten episodes. No matter where he goes, be it indoors or outdoors, he is known to always wear dark, solid coloured kimonos or robes. To be more precise, his outdoor attire consists of a black or navy wide sleeved kimono along with white tabi socks, wooden sandals that have elevated soles called geta and a colourful traditional scarf called wagesa. Meanwhile, his indoor attire only consists of a plain navy yukata or samue depending on whether or not he has chores to perform around the temple. A yukata is a garment that is similar to a kimono, but more casual and made with lighter fabric for comfort and warmer climates, whereas a samue is usually the two-piece outfit that Japanese Buddhist monks wear around the temple while performing tasks necessary to maintain the temple in a good, pristine and ordered state.

Finally, there are also quite a few ironic and funny elements about Takane. For instance, even though he sticks with traditional clothing, and goes as far as to use a carrying pole to move his personal belongings instead of a suitcase, he drives around the city in a brand new white sport car, which is quite hilarious to see since the whole thing creates clashing combination. Last but not least, he is quite clumsy despite his serious appearance, and he has never owned a cell phone in his entire life. Overall, I had a good laugh while watching this romantic comedy, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. Now the question is, have you ever watched or heard about dramas before? If so, which ones and from which countries? Be sure to let me know. I intend on doing a so-called “drama marathon” right after the finals end.


746 words


5 thoughts on “Ash-struck Monk

  1. Okay, so I have read it again. My confusion is that you used the word analyze, which is more, well… analytical than description, which deals more with the surface of things: what you see, hear, smell etc. Still, there is some in here along with the other elements of the text. And you have given us a good sense of this young monk. I can visualize the contrast struck by his traditional dark clothing and flashy white car. A few errors here and there throughout, but holds together overall.


  2. Hi Suzanne,

    First, let me tell you that I really liked the title that you used for this post because it sure captured my attention. I am a big fan of Asian dramas and it sure looks like you are too.
    Like I said your post captured my attention and it is because me too I have watched the drama “From Five to Nine” and to tell you the truth it was one my favourite drama for the year 2015. I really liked the fact that you focused your post on the monk (Hoshikawa Takane) because he is basically the main reason most people (including myself) loves this drama. The monk’s character gives this story its originality and also its humor. It is true that in everyday life we don’t see a monk acting like Takane, however, it is fun to imagine. Everything that Takane does seems a bit off but he sure has good intentions for it.

    Overall, I really liked your post, it was very clear and understandable. As I reread, I see that you have also integrated information and explanation about many things Japanese culture. It shows that you know what you are talking about and also that you want others to understand. I find that really thoughtful because there are still people (like me) who still get confused about Japanese lifestyle.

    You have done a great job! I am looking forward to your future posts!


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