Homyo-jiku (a hanging scroll on which a priests name or the posthumous name of the deceased is drawn (法名軸)

Homyo-jiku is one of {Buddhist altar fittings} used in Jodo Shinshu (the True Pure Land School of Buddhism), on which homyo (a priest's name or the posthumous name of the deceased) is described or painted. Unlike ihai (a Buddhist mortuary tablet), homyo-jiku is not considered an object of worship. For a household altar of lay believers, homyo-jiku are hung solemnly on both inner sides of the altar. Shinshu Takada-ha (the Takada sect of the Shinshu Buddhist school) does not use homyo-jiku but uses ihai (a mortuary tablet), which is, however, not considered an object of worship in this sect.


Homyo-jiku is shaped in a hanging scroll made of gold brocades and damasks with white plain paper mounted at its center.

When the paper has ruled lines to enable more than one name to be written, it is called "awase-haba" (literally, "conjunction of widths,") and is used for so-homyo-jiku (a homyo-jiku to cover all homyo names concerned).

How to use:

You may purchase a homyo-jiku at any shop of articles for Buddhist altars, or request the chief priest of your o-tetsugi-dera temple (an ancestral temple of the Jodo Shinshu school, equivalent to a bodai-ji temple of other schools) to prepare it. Then, you may ask the chief priest to transcribe the homyo of the deceased person onto the paper of homyo-jiku within forty-nine days after his or her death. If you are keeping kakocho (a family register of deaths), you may also ask the chief priest to transcribe homyo onto kakocho. When you receive homyo-jiku with names from the temple, you should take out 'shiraki no ihai' (literally, a 'mortuary tablet of plain wood') from behind the middle high platform of the altar, and hand it back to the temple.

If the head temple of Jodo Shinshu school has already conferred homyo (posthumous name) and ingo (posthumous title) on the deceased, you must receive from the temple the paper on which these homyo and ingo have been written, and make the paper mounted on a hanging scroll at any store of {Buddhist altar fittings} specializing in Shinshu school.

In ordinary practice, homyo-jiku of your parents (or any other person who died recently) should be hanged on the right hand side of an altar as you face it, and on the left hand side, so-homyo-jiku covering all homyo names of your ancestors. The reason why homyo-jiku are hanged on the inner sides of altar is explained as, in the Jodo Shinshu school, any altar is considered to represent jodo (a pure land) where all the deceased, being treated as Buddha, face toward Amida Nyorai (Amidabha) in the center.

In ordinary days, each individual homyo-jiku is rolled up, (except for laymen's houses where homyo-jiku are not rolled up but placed in boxes), while on the occasions of anniversaries of the death of ancestors, they are exposed to be hung in front of altars. At Urabon-e (the Bon Festival), all homyo-jiku are exposed and hung.

If the principal image is covered by damask, homyo-jiku made of damask is better used than that of gold brocade.

In some local places, kuridashi-ihai (a box-type mortuary tablet container) is used, but the head temple recommends use of homyo-jiku instead.

Although many Buddhist altars contain both homyo-jiku and kakocho (a family register of deaths), kakocho is an informal item to be kept in the altar's drawers in ordinary days. However, kakocho is so convenient for checking anniversaries of the deceased persons that it is allowed to be placed in an altar.

If an altar is too small to hang a homyo-jiku, kakocho is used instead of homyo-jiku.

[Original Japanese]