Higashi Honganji

About Higashi Honganji
About Higashi Honganji Opening Hours access information

Higashi Honganji & its History

Morning Service · 7 am daily

(including a Dharma talk in Japanese)

New Year's Service · January 1st – 7th

This service gives us an opportunity to start another day anew in the life of the Buddha-dharma with a refreshed mind and body.
At 6 am, after the traditional greetings in front of the image of Shinran are expressed by the abbot, the New Year's Service begins, in which otoso (a special sake containing herbs) is offered to all the participants only on that day.

Spring Service · April 1st – 3rd

During this period, the following services are held:

April 1st These are services, honoring the benevolence of Prince Shōtoku, and the seven patriarchs pertaining to our denomination as well as celebrating the birth of Shinran, which includes a choir singing songs praising him.
April 2nd A memorial service for all those who have died in various wars, in which we pledge that peace will prevail in a world without war.
April 3rd This is a memorial service for the deceased who have received confirmation rites in the past.
Spring Service

The Anniversary of the Founding of Jōdo Shinshū · April 15th

This is to celebrate the founding of Jōdo Shinshū together with the nine other branches of our denomination on April 15th, when Shinran completed his magnum opus, the Kyōgyōshinshō, which is the basic text that relays the doctrinal structure of Jōdo Shinshū, consisting of six volumes (Teaching, Practice, Faith, Realization, True Buddha-land, and Provisional Buddha-lands).

Spring Higan-e Service · March
Autumn Higan-e Service · September

Higan-e Services are observed twice a year during the spring and autumn equinoxes. "Higan" literally means "the other shore," the world of Enlightenment, namely the Pure Land, while our daily world is called "this shore." Higan is the abbreviation of "to-higan" which means "reaching the other shore." This period gives us a good opportunity to reflect on the Dharma, which can lead us from "this shore" of our world to "the other shore" of Buddha's Enlightenment.

The Carrying of the Scroll of Rennyo's Image to and from Yoshizaki

Yoshizaki (in present-day Fukui prefecture) is well known for one of the places in the coastal region of Hokuriku (on the Sea of Japan), where Rennyo (1415-1499), the 8th abbot of Higashi Honganji, propagated Shinran's teaching.
The origins of this event is said to have started in 1752, when a group of priests and followers decided to walk 150 miles from Kyoto to Yoshizaki to bring the scroll of Rennyo's image to Yoshizaki Betsuin Temple for his memorial service in order to express their gratitude for his efforts to propagate in that area.
Since then, this event has continued to this day, when on April 17th every year, after the opening service at Amida Hall, the scroll is carried from Higashi Honganji in a mikoshi (a portable shrine) to Yoshizaki Betsuin Temple, to be present at Rennyo's memorial service from April 23rd to May 2nd. After the completion of this service, the scroll is then returned to Kyoto on May 9th in a similar fashion, whereupon the closing service at Amida Hall takes place.

The Carrying of the Scroll of Rennyo's Image to and from Yoshizaki.

Urabon-e Service · July 14th – 15th

Urabon has its roots in the Maudgalyāyana story in the Urabon-Sūtra. Urabon is the Japanese transliteration of the Sanskrit word meaning "hanging upside down," implying great suffering. This service is an opportunity to reflect on our daily lives, in which everything appears upside down because of our egotistic desires.

Hō-on-kō Service · November 21st – 28th

A week-long memorial service for Shinran, who passed away on November 28th, 1262. For Jōdo Shinshū followers, this is the most important time of the year, where people from all over Japan and even overseas gather together to express their gratitude and listen to the Nenbutsu teaching as clarified by Shinran.
On November 25th, the reading of the Godenshō (a biography of Shinran, compiled by his great-grandson, Kakunyo) takes place in the evening. The service reaches its climax on November 28th in a dynamic chanting of the Nenbutsu and Wasan (hymns), composed by Shinran, in the Bandō-bushi style, in which the priests involved sway back and forth, left to right for over 2 hours.

Hō-on-kō Service

Susu-harai (Year-end cleaning) · December 20th

Susu-harai is a traditional annual event in Kyoto, in which followers from all over Japan and workers at Higashi Honganji participate together by forming a line in both the Founder's Hall and Amida Hall, and beat the tatami mats with bamboo sticks, while others swing traditional fans, two meters wide to blow away the dust.
At the end of these activities, the abbot traces the Chinese character kotobuki meaning "blessing," with a bamboo broom, on the surface of the paper curtains of the altar so as to protect them from the dust.

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