Here, we will provide an overview of the major annual events held at Chion-in.
Shushōe (New Year’s Service)
We welcome the new year and pray for peace in the world and happiness for mankind.
Seijin Shukugashiki (Coming of Age Celebration)
We celebrate the entry of our followers who have turned 20 into adulthood. Students from schools affiliated with Jōdo Shū(Pure Land Sect)participate in this celebration.
Hōnen Shōnin Goshōtō Hōyō (Service Commemorating the Death of Hōnen, held at the Mausoleum)
This service is held on the day that Hōnen died. We remember Hōnen’s virtue, and both monks and lay followers chant the name of Amida at the Mausoleum and the Seishidō)
Tsuinashiki (Drive Away the Devil Ceremony)
On this day, we scatter beans as part of the Setsubun (day before the start of spring in the lunar calendar) festivities. The custom of “driving away the devil” originated in China and made its way to Japan.
Nehan-e (Nirvana Service, held in the Mieidō)
This service is held in observance of Shakamuni Buddha’s death on February 15. As part of the service, we display the Nehanzu (Picture of Nirvana) in the Mieidō (the hall that houses the image of Hōnen). The Nehanzu depicts the Buddha’s many disciples and all living things lamenting as the Buddha is about to pass into nirvana (a state of complete extinction).
- Around the Week of the Spring Equinox
Haru Higan-e (Spring Equinox Service,held in the Mieidō)
Since the sun sets exactly to the west on the day of the Spring Equinox, we send our thoughts to the Pure Land of Amida, which is located to the west. During this service, we also hold reflect upon ourselves and pray for our ancestors. In the Mieidō (the hall that houses the image of Hōnen), we display the Kangyō Mandara, an illustration of the Saihō Jōodo(Western Pure Land).
Kanbutsu-e (Buddha’s Birthday, held in the Mieidō)
On this day, we celebrate the birthday of Shakyamuni Buddha. We place a garland of flowers in the Mieidō (the hall that houses the image of Hōnen) and observe the Buddha’s birthday. We also pour sweet tea and sprinkle it on the Buddha. The origins of this ritual is that when the Buddha was born, the heavens celebrated by showering sweet dew.
Gyoki Daie (Memorial Service for Hōnen)
This is the largest and most important service held at Chion-in. During the services, various events are held, such as a flower-offering ceremony, music services, a hōjō-e (a ceremony in which fish, insects and birds are set free, symbolizing Buddhism’s prohibition against killing) and chanting the nembutsu at midnight. Originally, this service for Hōnen was held in January, around the day of his death, but since 1877 it has been held in April.
Urabon-e and Services for Those Who Died in Traffic Accidents
(Held in the Mieidō)
Urabon-e, also known simply as “O-bon” is observed throughout Japan, and special services are held to pray for one’s parents and deceased ancestors. At Chion-in, we also pray for those who died in traffic accidents.
- Around the Week of the Autumn Equinox
Aki Higan-e(Autumn Equinox Service, held in the Mieidō)
Since the sun sets exactly to the west on the day of the Autumn Equinox, we send our thoughts to the Pure Land of Amida, which is located to the west. During this service, we also hold reflect upon ourselves and pray for our ancestors. In the Mieidō (the hall that houses the image of Hōnen), we display the Kangyō Mandara, an illustration of the Western Pure Land.
Yoshimizu-kō Eishō Taikai
(Yoshimizu Song and Chant Service, held in the Mieidō)
In the Mieidō (the hall which houses the image of Hōnen), songs and dances in praise of Hōnen and other famous monks are performed.
Services at Nuregami Daimyōjin
On this day, we hold prayers and burn the prayer boards left by visitors at the Nuregami Daimyōjin Shrine, which is located next to the Mausoleum.
It is said that Nuregami Daimyōjin protects Chion-in from fires.
O-minugui Shiki (Wiping Ceremony)
We wipe down the sacred image of Hōnen, which is normally housed inside the altar, with a silk cloth made from habutae(a high-quality double layered silk). On this day, the hall is filled with monks and worshippers, and a solemn yet magnificent ceremony is held while the nembutsu is chanted.
Joya-no-kane (Bell Ringing on New Year’s Eve)
As part of welcoming the new year, the purpose of this ceremony is to sweep away all of the desires that have accumulated over the course of a year. The bell is struck 108 times, which represents the number of desires that we hold. The bell at Chion-in is one of the most famous in Japan. Due to its size, it takes a team of seventeen monks to strike the bell, and each time the bell rings the monks can be heard shouting “Ee hitotsu” (One more!) and “sōre” (Now!).