Depictions of Buddhism in games

I‘m sure there’s going to be a lot of these.

One of the most memorable for me is Monk Hoichi from Chulip.

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The writing on his head is apparently supposed to recall writing engraved on a grain of rice:
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The game (lovingly?) simulates his whole daily routine of waking up, banging the wooden fish 108 times, and selling incense on the street (this game is what taught me the word "mendicancy").

I found this video that follows him around over the course of his day, though the commentary perhaps contains spoilers:

What other examples can you think of?

This thread can also serve as a place to ask about visual motifs and other references that are clearly Buddhist in nature, but that you'd like to know more about. One of the most fascinating aspects of Japanese games is all of this Buddhist iconography that, to the average person growing up in a Western country, is completely unfamiliar. I know for me personally there were many Buddhist things I'd seen in games, but I didn't even have the vocabulary to look them up on google. Hopefully this thread can help anyone who finds themself in that situation.

Thailand, Street Fighter II

Freaky Horror Buddhism is one of the best parts of _Sekiro_

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Everhood is somewhat Buddhist philosophically, but also the jolly man shows up in game

@“Funbil”#p154601 i did not know the Japanese pronunciation of Yama is Emma lol

i like the idea of the ruler of hell just being some random lady named Emma

I could name many examples, but to limit myself to the less obvious ones:

  • - Maka Maka apparently engages with Buddhist imagery pretty heavily. I‘ve only just finished watching a speedrun of it, though, so I’m not in much of a position to tell you what or how beyond the most superficial examples.
  • - [The coin ship in *Super Mario Bros. 3*]( is based on [the treasure ship](, a ship in Japanese mythology that ultimately finds at least some of its roots in Buddhism.
  • Birushana (which means Buddha in Sanskrit) promised to be an otome from a Buddhist lens. But aside from the main character visiting some temples and a few philosophical dialogue exchanges, Buddhism was only just an undercurrent and didn‘t really offer a new perspective into the characters or genre. There were a lot of references in the early chapters but it didn’t really stick as a theme. It felt more like the prose offered basic sentiments and glossary terms rather than really making it part of the story. There‘s still some good stuff in there but overall it didn’t have as much payoff as I'd like.


    My user icon on one of the payment apps is a Buddha from Shrine of Arumana for FDS iirc. Great thread, your OP is one of my absolute favorites. The Chulip cover art I made and posted in the fanart thread uses a realistic depiction of his head that I made for the background on the front side of the cover.

    Goemon has a ton of buddhas.

    I wish animal crossing had any depictions of Buddha I could use. Though that gives me a great idea for a custom pattern!

    I don’t think it’s ever specifically referred to apart from the accrual of ‘karma’, but Rain World seems really interested in / influenced by Buddhism — The narratives and gameplay both reference the unending cycles of rebirth, inherent struggle / suffering of existence and spiritually escaping that cycle.

    @"treefroggy"#p154777 Yea, they could’ve even taken a ‘Toy Day’ approach and just named the item ‘happy statue’ or something. There’s the little [Daruma](, though. I didn’t know the tradition (or function in AC) of marking the one eye.

    Uh dumb question but Wikipedia didn‘t give much help. Is Asura from Asura’s Wrath Hindu or Buddhist?


    @“thebryanjzx90”#p154783 Is Asura from Asura’s Wrath Hindu or Buddhist?


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    Mutatsu, the drunk monk from Persona 3, is an interesting depiction of an extremely worldly Buddhist monk. He treats his religious activities as a sort of civic duty, reciting mantras for people or offering prayers/blessings despite the fact that it doesn't seem he fully believes in it. His personal life is a complete mess and his story weirdly ends with what seems to be an incredibly misguided attempt to reconnect with his estranged wife and son. I guess we're just supposed to assume it all works out, and that he's truly grown as a person? It felt to me that he's just grasping at straws, and hasn't addressed the core issues of his life at all.

    It reminds me of seeing Buddhist monks shopping at the produce store I used to work at. Despite the mystification (especially in the Western world), they're just normal people in the end. I feel like this was a lot more obvious during the days when almost everyone knew or knew of someone who went off to join a convent or monastery. (Maybe this is just my impression from reading too many Russian novels.) Nowadays, people either associate monks with mythical desert fathers or the like, or otherwise have an entirely different idea of worldly monkhood in the form of technology/productivity "gurus."


    @“wickedcestus”#p155111 It felt to me that he’s just grasping at straws, and hasn’t addressed the core issues of his life at all.

    Sounds like a _Persona_ game alright!

    @“treefroggy”#p154777 wait did my pic not post?

    From Arumana no Senki I thinki

    @“wickedcestus”#p155111 There‘s a character in Tengai Makyou Ziria who is also very much like this. Cynical, a bit corrupt, doesn’t really believe, but still does his monkly duties. I wonder if this is a larger archetype that originates from something older.

    (sorry for the emulator filters. Ziria longplays are hard to come by on the English internet)

    Actually, now that I write that, I'm thinking of Sagacious Lu (of _Water Margin_); He became a monk out of a need to hide his identity, was bored as a monk, got extremely drunk and caused a brawl in a monastery (twice), but eventually turns it around and becomes a great monk. Can't help but notice physical the resemblance as well (Lu on the bottom).

    Not exactly the subject of the thread, but I saw this video of a monk playing Mario, trying to avoid killing anything:

    He’s a part of this rock band, that sings songs about the etiquette for visiting temples: