Nenbutsu-ko (念仏講)

Nenbutsu-ko means kochu, which is the gathering for nenbutsu chanting by lay believers of Japanese Buddhism. The nenbutsu-ko, held mostly in temples of the Jodo (Pure Land) sect and its derivative, is closely related to many local events (funerals and other village events).

At a funeral, the nenbutsu-ko is sometimes held at a Buddhist memorial service called the makura-kyo (the service that chants a sutra near the pillow of the deceased during tsuya (the wake)). Moreover, it is sometimes held as a participatory ceremony when the remains of the deceased are buried following cremation. It is held in a manner distinct from the sutra chanting of a Buddhist priest. It is held on taiya (the evening before a Buddhist funeral or memorial service) and on kinichi (the monthly return of the death day), both from the sixth day to the 49th day after the death, and it is also held on the event date, such as urabon (Buddhist All Soul's Day, around the 15th of July or August, depending on the local custom) and higan (two periods of seven days with the middle day falling on the spring or autumn equinox).

The nenbutsu-ko held on a monthly fixed day is called tsukinami, and is generally held on the day of the festival dedicated to Jizo Bosatsu (Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva), Kannon Bosatsu (Guan Yin Bodhisattva), Fudo Myoo (Acala, one of the Five Wisdom Kings) and so on. Moreover, it is held on the days of an event, such as mushiokuri (making a torch procession to drive away crop-eating insects), kazeokuri (sending a doll from person to person to drive away the common cold), yakuyoke (warding off evil) and amagoi (praying for rain). Thus, nenbutsu-ko today functions as a village meeting of the aged, so it serves not only a religious role but also as an occasion for the entertainment of the aged.

In the early Edo period of the Tosa domain (the present-day Kochi Prefecture), nenbutsu-ko functioned under the chief retainer Kenzan NONAKA as an organization to collect reserve funds for funerals.

The argot
Nenbutsu-ko was occasionally used as an argot of gang rape.
"Shunshoku umegoyomi" (Spring-Color Plum Calendar), a novel written in 1832 by Shunsui TAMENAGA, has a sentence that says, 'They surround a girl at the top of the room, and are about to begin 'nenbutsu-ko' (gang rape).'

[Original Japanese]