An Auspicious Occasion That Comes Only Once In A Lifetime
2011 will mark the 800th year since Jōdo Shū(Pure Land Sect) founder Hōnen died. Traditionally, Chion-in has held grand services every fifty years on the anniversary of Hōnen’s death. This time, we are planning numerous events, such as a month-long memorial service, to mark the 800th anniversary of Hōnen’s death.
Hōnen was born in the late Heian Period (794-1185), and he returned Buddhism, which was monopolized by the aristocracy, back to the masses. As the head temple of the Jōdo Shū, Chion-in will pass on these teachings to everyone on this auspicious occasion. We hope that you will join us for this special commemoration.
1. Memorial Services
Between March 27 and April 25 2011, we will hold a month long memorial service in commemoration of Hōnen’s death. The services will be divided into the following three phases:
- Phase One (March 27-April 3)
- This service, which has been performed since the 500 Year Memorial Celebration held in the middle of the Edo Period (1600-1868), largely consists of shōmyō (Buddhist chanting).
- Phase Two (April 4-16)
- The head temples of the Jōdo Shū, and various groups affiliated with Chion-in, will each perform ceremonies praising Hōnen.
- Phase Three (April 18-25)
- In accordance with yearly tradition, we will hold a week-long Gyoki dai-e (memorial service).
Keeping with tradition, traditional Japanese court music and dance will be performed in front of the Mieidō (hall which houses the image of Hōnen) during the services. We look forward to welcoming many visitors to the temple.
2. Repairs and Work On the Cultural Properties
Along with the partial dismantling and repair of the Mieidō, a National Treasure, and the Shūedō (assembly hall), an Important Cultural Property, we will take this opportunity to perform maintenance on the entire temple grounds. The Mieidō and Shūedō were rebuilt in the early part of the Edo Period (1600-1868) with a donation from the shogun, Tokugawa Iemitsu, and these buildings have served as the center of the nembutsu faith for the past more than 350 years. The current maintenance work should allow them to continue as place where people can entrust their hearts for the next several centuries.
3. Educational Activities
Hōnen’s teachings have been widely spread through the efforts of our educational activities, such as the Otetsugi Undō (Linking Hands Campaign). Through chanting Namu Amida Butsu (I seek refuge in Amida) with all one’s heart, one can be reborn in the land of Amida when their life in this world comes to an end. We teach that people can place all of their energy into leading a meaningful life since the fear of death has disappeared.