”Music Temple” wants to send audio equipment off with the respect it deserves.

A unique aspect of Japanese culture is that most people practice both Buddhist and Shinto customs. The idea of having two religions might seem odd, but there’s some division of divine labor between the two. For example, Shinto shrines are where weddings take place, and funerals are held at Buddhist temples.

So it makes a certain kind of sense that Ongakuji, a temple whose name translates as “Music Temple,” offers funeral services for broken record player needles.

Located in the town of Chichibu, Saitama Prefecture, and founded in 824, Ongakuji owes its name to the captivating sound of the wind as it rushes through nearby pine trees, drawing comparisons to the music played by Bodhisattvas. Since 2020, the temple has been holding a once-a-year Record Player Needle Memorial Service, in which a priest blesses the no-longer usable equipment, giving it a more dignified sendoff than simply chucking it into a trash can.

Of course, if you’re enough of an audiophile to be considering a funeral for your record player needle, you’re no doubt already aware that the needle, properly called a stylus, is located inside a housing called the cartridge or pickup. These too are eligible for memorial services at Ongakuji, along with broken, bent, or worn down needles that have been removed from their cartridges.

▼ A box of cartridges, awaiting their blessing

Ongakuji offers its Record Player Needle Memorial Service in collaboration with Nagaoka, a Yamagata Prefecture-based record player needle manufacturer. They describe the purpose of the service with:

“We hope that this will serve as an opportunity to show appreciation for the needles that have provided us with good music and good memories in our daily lives, as a reminder of the importance of periodically replacing your player’s needle, and instill a custom of listening to records in high sound quality.”

This year’s Record Needle Memorial Service will be held on March 9, and those unable to personally carry their needles to the temple can mail them to Nagaoka’s Tokyo office (address Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Sendagaya 4-3-2, Nagaoka TRD Record Memorial Service Clerk), from where Nagaoka will transport them the rest of the way.

There’s definitely a tongue-in-cheek aspect to the whole thing, as there’s no widespread belief in Japan that technological equipment has a living soul. At the same time, the Record Needle Memorial Service does have a connection with deep-seated Japanese cultural values about gratitude, respect, and avoiding wastefulness, similar to the funeral service held for pagers in Tokyo a while back.

Source, images: PR Times
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