A famed temple built in Japan’s cultural capital of Kyoto by the wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a warlord from the 16th century who unified Japan, to commemorate her husband will now have an Android deity preaching to the public. The Android Kannon, with its hands clasped together, adds a touch of modernity to the historical temple.
The Android Kannon is a Buddhist deity of mercy and it was unveiled to the media earlier this month at the Kodaiji temple. It will officially start preaching to the public next month.
“We are hoping that the Android Kannon will help Buddhist teachings reach the hearts of people today,” said Tensho Goto, a priest at the temple, adding that Buddhism considerably spread across the world with the emergence of Buddhist images.
The robot is named Mindar and has been programmed to deliver a sermon from the Heart Sutras in Japanese. It will also project the translated versions in English and Chinese on the screen. The android can move its arms, torso and head which have see-through mechanical parts.
This wasn’t a cheap project by any stretch of the imagination. It cost 100 million yen or just over $900,000 to build the android. It was a collaborative effort between the zen temple at Hiroshi Ishiguro who is a professor of intelligent robotics at Osaka University.