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Calendar of Observances

January 1

Gantan'e / Shusho'e (New Year's Day Service)

January 8

Ogoshin (Cleaning and preparation of Shinran Shonin's image)

January 9–16

Goshoki Ho'onko (Memorial Service for Shinran Shonin)

A week-long, annual service culminating on Shinran Shonin's memorial day, January 16. Ho'onko is the most important among the annual Hongwanji observances. Jodo Shinshu followers from throughout Japan and overseas visit Hongwanji during this time to pay respects to our beloved founder.

Early half of January

Seijinshiki (Coming-of-Age Ceremony)

This ceremony offers those who have just come of age an opportunity to express their gratitude to the people who have given them love and kind guidance. It should be also an occasion for them to renew their resolution of following the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist path.

February 7

Kisaragi-ki (Memorial Service for Lady Kujo Takeko)

Lady Kujo Takeko, the sister of the 22nd Monshu, Ohtani Kozui, is known for her efforts as the founder of the Buddhist Women's Association and her volunteer work during the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923.

7 days centering the spring equinox

Higan'e*  (Spring Equinox)

Higan is the transliteration of the Sanskrit word, pāramitā, which means "the other shore," and here it refers to "reach or attain nirvana." Higan'e is a week-long, biannual Buddhist observance that is unique to Japan. Although the exact origin is not known, the relatively moderate climate of spring and autumn might be considered ideal to conduct Buddhist gatherings.

April 8

Hanamatsuri (flower festival) / Kambutsu'e (Buddha's Birthday)

Sakyamuni Buddha is believed to have been born approximately 2600 years ago in the Lumbini flower garden located near the border between India and Nepal. It is said that on that auspicious occasion, sweet rain fell from the sky. To reenact that scene, people pour sweet tea on the statue of baby Buddha on that day.

April 13–15

Rikkyo Kaishu Kinen Hoyo (Annual Commemorative Service of the Establishment of the Jodo Shinshu Teaching / Spring Service)

The Jodo Shinshu founder, Shinran Shonin, inscribed in his main literary work, Ken-jodo-shinjitsu-kyo-gyo-shomonrui (abridged as Kyogyoshinsho) or The True Teaching, Practice and Realization, the year of 1224 as "waga Gen'nin gan'nen (lit., the first year of our Gen'nin era)." Due to this inscription, the year has been considered when Shinran wrote the aforementioned work, and accordingly it has been regarded as when he established the Jodo Shinshu teaching. Hongwanji annually conducts a service to commemorate that occasion on April 15. The three-day service including two days prior to it has been called "Spring Service."

May 20–21

Gotan'e (Founder's Birthday)

Celebration of the birth of Shinran Shonin, the founder of the Jodo Shinshu teaching. He was born on May 21, 1173 at Hino, southeast of central Kyoto. A variety of events, including a Noh performance on a culturally important stage and tea ceremony in a national treasure pavilion, Hiunkaku, are conducted annually on this day.

Early June

Eitaikyo (Perpetual Memorial) at Otani mausoleum

Annual memorial for those under whose names eitaikyo*  was offered or whose remains were interred at Otani Mausoleum as well as all predecessors who lived and died as Buddhists or Nembutsu followers. This memorial is conducted for four days.

*Eitaikyo is service observance in memory of someone that is usually requested by that person's family or friends. The service is also conducted with aspiration of perpetual or "eitai" sharing of the Buddhist teaching as well as preservation of temples as the place where people gather to appreciate the teaching.

Early August

Bon Dance Festival

Since 1986, this festive event is conducted annually in the Hongwanji parking lot. Food booths and a variety of entertainment attract many people, with over 10,000 in attendance in recent years.

August 6–10

Morning Dharma Gathering at Otani Mausoleum

Many Buddhist temples in the city of Kyoto annually hold this sort of morning dharma gathering, which is commonly known as Gyoten Koza, (lit., daybreak lecture) in midsummer. Five temples in Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto where the Otani Mausoleum is located, co-sponsor a series of lectures of which consist of five days at each place. Otani Mausoleum is a sponsor of that program and usually the venue of the last session. The program begins at 6:00 AM with sutra chanting followed by a lecture after which visitors are treated with bowls of rice porridge.

August 14–15

Urabon'e (Ullambana / O-Bon observance)

Also referred to as Kangi'e (lt., "gathering of joy"), based on the legend of a disciple of Sakyamuni Buddha, Mogallana. Wanting to save his mother who fell into the realm of hungry ghosts, Mogallana conducted Dharma gatherings following the Buddha's advice. As a result, his mother was saved and he rejoiced.

August 15

Memorial for Those Who Perished in War

This memorial service is conducted to renew our resolution for peace and renunciation of war. It should be also an opportunity for us to be aware of the preciousness of life.

September 18

Memorial Service for All Who Perished in War Conducted at Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery

This memorial service is conducted in Tokyo at Chidorigafuchi National Cemetery to renew our resolution for peace and renunciation of war.

7 days centering the autumnal equinox

Higan'e*  (Autumn Equinox)

* Higan the transliteration of the Sanskrit word, pāramitā, which means "the other shore," and here it refers to "reach or attain nirvana." Higan'e is a week-long, biannual Buddhist observance that is unique to Japan. Although the exact origin is not known, the relatively moderate climate of spring and autumn might be considered ideal to conduct Buddhist gatherings.

October 15–16

Ryukoku'e (Memorial for Shinran Shonin) at Otani Mausoleum

In the Jodo Shinshu tradition, the annual memorial observance for Shinran Shonin is known as Ho'onko (lit., gathering expressing appreciation) and is an opportunity to express our gratitude to Shinran. Ryukoku'e is the observance of Ho'onko that is conducted at Otani Mausoleum, which features the traditional procession of costumed priests and lay followers between the temple hall and Shinran's gravesite.

Mid-October to Mid-November 

Chrysanthemum Exhibition

Co-sponsored by the Kyoto Chrysanthemum Prosperity Association

A wide variety of potted chrysanthemums are contributed and displayed in the courtyard for visitors to Hongwanji to enjoy.

November 22–23

Memorial Services for All Nembutsu Followers Conducted at Hongwanji (Autumn Service)

This is an occasion to express our respect to all Jodo Shinshu followers who passed away during the past year. It is also referred to as "Autumn Service."

December 20

Osusuharai (Year-end Cleaning)

Annual cleaning of the main temple halls has become a public attraction. Using bamboo slats, the dust that collected over the year is beat out of the tatami mats, and enormous paper fans are used to blow it out of the temple halls.

December 31

Joya'e (New Year's Eve Service)

The final service of the year is conducted on New Year's eve in appreciation for all the events, incidents, and experiences that transpired.

Shinran's Day

The 16th is the monthly memorial for Shinran Shonin, the Jodo Shinshu founder.
At Hongwanji, monthly memorial services are conducted on the 15th and 16th. In addition,
as an expression of our respect to him, we call the 16th "Shinran's Day" and hold a variety of events.
Due to an annual, week-long memorial service, we do not have Shinran's Day events on January 16.

1. Memorial service

Monthly Memorial for Shinran Shonin
Date & Time: 15th 2:00–2:40 PM,
  16th 10:00–10:30 AM

Place: Goeido

2. Dharma talk session

Dharma talk session (in Japanese only)
SUSPENDED

Date & Time: 16th 10:35–10:55 AM
Place: Goeido

*Chairs are available.

3. Cultural experiences

A variety of workshops: bracelet nenju / fragrance sachet, are available at the rest area.
SUSPENDED

Date & Time: 16th 9:10–9:45 AM
Place: Ochasho (information center & rest area)
No reservation required. 

4. Guided tour

A great opportunity to visit the architectural treasure that is not usually open to the public
SUSPENDED

Date & Time: 16th 11:00 AM-around 12:00 PM

Application: Please sign in at Ryukoden* between 9:00-10:00 AM

Qualification: Visitors who attend the monthly Shinran Shonin's Memorial and the following dharma talk session

*Ryukoden is adjacent to the Goeido on the south side.
*Upon signing in, you will receive a visitor's tag, which you need to wear during the tour.
*Photographing is not allowed.

5. Flea market

Let's find a bargain!
SUSPENDED

Date & Time: 16th 9:00 AM-3:00 PM

Places: Amidado gate, Goeido gate, and other areas, such as near Ryukoku Museum and Dendoin.