Shuni-e (Omizu-tori or Sacred Water-drawing Festival) (修二会)

Shuni-e refers to one of hoe (Buddhist mass) conducted in Japanese Buddhist temples, which is also called Shunigatsu-e.


As February of the old lunar calendar corresponds to New Year in India, kuyo (a memorial service for the dead) is said to be done, but in foreign countries there are no Shuni-e and the origin is not clear. And the word Shuni-e did not appear in the literature until the Heian period. And hoe done in January (the old lunar calendar) is called Shusho-e (New Year's Service). The one done in old temples in Nara region is famous and in particular the Shuni-e in Nigatsu-do Hall of Todai-ji Temple is commonly known as "Omizutori" (Water-Drawing Festival). And the Shuni-e in Yakushi-ji Temple is commonly known as "Hanae-shiki" (Buddhist mass celebrating Buddha's Birthday). Additionally, there are the one done in Horyu-ji Temple Saien-do and the one in Hasedera Temple. What is common to both of them is keka (confession (of one's sins)) for honzon (principal image of Buddha).

Shuni-e in Todai-ji Temple (Omizutori)

The hongyo (high-toned performance) of Shuni-e in Todai-ji Temple, which is known as "Omizutori," was formerly done from February 1 to 15 of the old lunar calendar, but today from March 1 to 14 of New calendar (solar calendar) for two weeks. The events are mainly Buddhist memorial services where the practitioners, who went through purifying themselves (religiously) by abstaining from eating meat and are called rengyoshu (the eleven priests participate in Shuni-e held at Nigatsudo hall of Todaiji Temple), confess their sins by themselves and through their kudoku (pious act), pray to Eleven-faced Kannon (Goddess of Mercy) in Nigatsu-do Hall for the prosperity of Buddhism, the peaceful world, the affluent life for the national, huge harvest (of cereals) and so on. The event came to be called Shuni-e during the Heian period, though it had been called Jyuichimen Keka Ho during the Nara period, and even now it is the official name. In Kansai region it is often called "Otaimatsu" (means "Shuni-e (Omizutori, Water-Drawing Festival)").

According to "Nigatsudo engi" (Karmic origins of the Nigatsudo), Jicchu kasho, the disciple of Ryoben Sojo who was the kaisan (a founder of temple as the first chief priest) of Todai-ji Temple in 751, went into Tenkai (Tosotsuten (The fourth of six heavens in the world of desire)), where tennin (heavenly beings) live, in the heart of Mt. Kasagi and saw the tennin did the keka for Eleven-faced Kannon in Jonen Kannonin (the hall with kannon statue that is thought to be placed in Tosotsuten (Heaven)) and wished for the keka to be done also in this (the lower) world. However, one day of Tosotsuten corresponded to four hundred years of Ningenkai (Human world) and it was thought to be absolutely impossible to catch up with. Thus, to keep up with the pace of Tosotsuten as much as possible, they came up with the practice with running.

Allegedly, Jyuichimen Keka in Todai-ji Temple was done firstly in 752.

Rengyoshu (the eleven priests participate in Shuni-e (Omizutori, Water-Drawing Festival) held at Nigatsudo hall of Todaiji Temple)
The practitioners who conduct the Shuni-e are eleven Buddhist priests, called Rengyoshu, and sanyaku (the three key officials) or those who are called Chugen (the assistant of Rengyoshu) or Doji (the assistant of Rengyoshu hold big torch to guide Rengyoshu to the Nigatsudo hall) (they are adults) assist them. The priests of "Rengyoshu" are appointed every year from the announcement of the chief abbot of Kegon (sect of Buddhism) before Buddhist memorial service in the early morning of December 16 which is the anniversary of the death of Roben Sojo who was the first betto (the head priest) of Todai-ji Temple.

The four priests of rengyoshu, who are especially called Shishiki (upper ranked four members of Rengyoshu as Wajo, Daidoshi, Shushi and Dotsukasa), are in the precedence.
Shishiki are as follows:

Wajo (who administers the Buddhist laws to rengyoshu) does Jukai (handing down the precepts) to Rengyoshu.

Daidoshi (who chants the prayers and essence of religious texts and leads the whole ceremony in Shuni-e) states the essence of gyoho (method of ascetic practices) and prays. He is the general manager as a matter of practice. He is commonly called "doshi san" (officiating monk).

Shushi (masters of incantation who arose through the rituals of the esoteric Buddhism of great temples) does the practice of Mikkyo (Esoteric Buddhism).

Dotsukasa (the member of Rengyoshu who makes sure the whole ceremony runs smoothly) organizes the event and conducts general affairs. They are commonly called "Otsukasa".

The other Renghoshu are called "Hirashu" (the priests of Rengyoshu except for Shishiki (Wajo, Daidoshi, Shushi and Dotsukasa)).

Hirashu are as follows:

Kitazashu no ichi (the chief of Hirashu placed at the northern side of naijin in Nigatsudo hall) is the chief of Hirashu.

Nanzashu no ichi (the vice-chief of Hirashu placed at the southern side of naijin in Nigatsudo hall) is the vice-chief of Hirashu.

Kitazashu no ni (the member of Hirashu placed at the northern side of naijin in Nigatsudo hall)
Nanzashu no ni (the member of Hirashu placed at the southern side of naijin in Nigatsudo hall)
Chudo (the member of Hirashu, recorder) is the clerical.

Gon shosekai is the assistant of Shosekai (the member of Hirashu). They are commonly called "Gonsho-san".

Shosekai (the member of Hirashu) are at the foot of Hirashu. They are the men who do chores of Buddhist memorial service.

Rengyoshu are supported by Doji, Chugen and so on as well as Sanyaku (Dodoji (the assistant of Rengyoshu maintains raido and gaijin), Shoko and Komori (the assistant of Rengyoshu, accountant) and Kushi (the assistant of Rengyoshu manages yuya (bathhouse)), and they carry out the events.

Bekka (the time for Rengyoshu to cut themselves off from usual lives in order to purify their minds and bodies)
Before going in hongyo on March 1, the event called "Bekka" is conducted in advance. Rengyoshu go through purifying themselves (religiously) by abstaining from eating meat and do the residential training in the kuri (priest's kitchen and living room) (Bekka-bo) of Kaidan-in. Without using the fire of the world, they lead a life using only the special fire from a flint and thus it is called as such.

Those who newly becomes Rengyoshu (Shinnyu (a priest who newly becomes the member of Rengyoshu in Shuni-e) and those who firstly becomes Daidoshi (who chants the prayers and essence of religious texts and leads the whole ceremony in Shuni-e) go into Bekka from February 15 and the other Rengyoshu from February 20.

As for Bekka, there are two time periods such as "Koro Bekka" (the former Bekka) and "So Bekka" (the latter Bekka). The time period of Koro Bekka is five days (ten days for new Daidoshi) and after that "So Bekka" continues.

During the time period of Koro Bekka they are allowed to pick something up from their own houses, but are not allowed to get food freely or warm themselves by fire. They are not allowed to go out of the precincts of the shrine. Formerly they did it in their own houses, but after allowed to get married they came to do the residential training.

"Shasan" (visit to shrines or temples) is done on February 21, and the Rengyoshu except for Shinnyu form a line led by Wajo and visit Hachimanden, Daibutsu-den (the Great Buddha hall), Tennoden (the Guardian Kings Hall) and Kaisan-do Hall (temple where the statue of founder priest is placed) and pray for the security of the practice. They blow a conch shell at four points on their way. Also on this day, in a bathhouse in Nigatsu-do Hall, "Kokoromi no yu" (bath for preparation of participation in Shuni-e) is held. After asked "Do you do ascetic practices as has happened in the past?", they decide to join Suni-e and take a bath.

On February 23, "Hanagoshirae" (making paper flower dedicated for the two Kannon statues in Shuni-e) and "Toshinzoroe" (making wick for Shuni-e) are held. In Shuni-e in Todai-ji Temple, the imitation flowers (camellia and nandina (sacred bamboo)) are made as the flowers offered in front of Buddha. Also on this day, the core of tomyo (votive light) is made. These two works are done by all the Rengyoshu, Sanyaku and so on and they prepare 400 camellias, 50 nandinas and many cores of tomyo. On February 24, 1000 ricecakes of about 3 cm thick and 15 cm in diameter, which are called dangu (the thousand ricecakes dedicated for the two Kannon statues in Shuni-e), are made to be dedicated in front of Buddha for the first seven days (also on March 5, the same number of dangu is made for the last seven days).

During Koro Bekka, they prepare hogu (ritual implements) for hongyo and at night practice Shomyo (chanting of Buddhist hymns). The melody of Shomyo is complicated and has to be learned by heart and especially for Shinnyu it is a very hard work.

The Shasan (visit to shrines or temples) on February 25 (26 in an intercalary year) includes the meaning of depart from Shaba (one of galaxies in the Sanzen Daisen Sekai, where our humans live).

So Bekka starts on February 26 and they take a bath in series and wear a kamiko (the paper garments for wearing only on Shuni-e). Kamiko is considered as the thing of purity and they continue to wear it during the practice. During this term they must not sit except on the purified mat, called Teshimagoza (Tashima mat), put in the large hall in Bekka-bo, cannot talk freely and do not use any fire at all. They cannot drink hot water or tea and must not go down on the earth.

They put imitation flowers of camellia in branches and "the ceremony of a clerical robe (on February 27)," where they wear a cloth dyed with India ink, called Egoromo (a black robe), on their kamiko, and so on are held. Also they blow a conch shell together in the evening. At night they practice Shomyo.

On the last day of February they are busy because they move from Bekka-bo in Kaidan-in to Nigatsu-do Hall where hongyo is done. Various sorts of hogu and so on are carried out after they are treated with "kokun" where they burn incense to purify the ritual implements. At the end Rengyoshu chant "Oisange" (confession of one's sins at Shuni-e) and move to Nigatsu-do Hall. This is the beginning of hongyo.

Hongyo starts.

During hongyo, Rengyoshu stay in "Jiki-do Hall" (dining hall) under the stone stairway called Noboriro (stone steps at both sides of Nigatsudo hall in Todaiji Temple) and the long and thin building called "Sanrojukusho" (lodging at the north of Nigatsudo hall in Todaiji Temple) in the north side of Nigatsu-do Hall. This building is an important cultural property built from Kamakura to Muromachi period.

They go in the accommodation (on February 28, but in an intercalary year on February 29) in the evening and "Onakatomi no Harai" (the purification performed by Shushi in Shuni-e (Omizutori)) is done. Shushi silently chants Onakatomi no Haraikotoba (the prayer of Onakatomi) and purifies Rengyoshu with gohei (wooden wands, decorated with two Shide (zigzag paper streamers)). This is the event of Shinto. Shuni-e in Todai-ji Temple includes many elements of Shinto.

"Jukai" (handing down the precepts) is done from one o'clock in the middle of the night on March 1.
It is Wajo who gives the precepts; after he does his self-ordination toward Binzuru-sonja in Jiki-do Hall, he reads Hassai-kai, eight precepts (murder, steal, contact with women and so on), which should be observed to all the Rengyoshu one by one, and asks "Do you observe them well or not?"
Following Daidoshi, Rengyoshu go down from the floor, squat down, put the palms of hands together and swear for every precept, saying "Observe well, observe well, observe well" three times. Also on March 8 Jukai is done again.

After Jukai is over at one forty, Rengyoshu as one group go in Nigatsu-do Hall with the call of "Now we go in, now we go in," change into clogs and stomp on the floor of rai-do hall (a worship hall). This is called kaihaku jodo (entering into Nigatsudo hall). When the key of Naijin (the inner sanctum located in the main halls, Kondo or Hondo of a Buddhist temple, or Honden of a Shinto shrine) is opened and the door opens, Rengyoshu run into Naijin, go around shumidan (an altar made of fine timber, generally with paneling, hame) three times, pray to the honzon, clean Naijin and decorate the shumidan.

Around two fifteen all the lights in Nigatsu-do Hall are put off and the door is closed. Dodoji strikes a spark from a flint and makes a fire. This fire is called Ittokubi (the sacred fire made by flint) and is treated as the flashpoint of constant lights.

For the first time at two thirty Keka Hoyo (the Buddhist memorial service for keka (a confession of one's sins)) (Kaibyaku (to start from zero) Buddhist memorial service) is done. It is over around three and they go to sleep.

After the dawn and at noon the bell is rung and "Jikisaho" (having a simple meal with the long prayer) is done in Jiki-do Hall. After Daidoshi prays for the protection of believers, jobutsu (die peacefully) of people in the past and so on for about thirty minutes from noon, they take food (macrobiotics) of one bowl of soup and one (or two) dish(es). The manner of serving is peculiar. After macrobiotics they must not take food on that day. This manner continues every day during hongyo.

The honzon in Nigatsu-do Hall is two Kannon-zo (statue of the Kannon) called "big kannon" and "small kannon" and both of them are Buddhist image normally withheld from public view and cannot be seen even by Rengyoshu.

Keka Hoyo (the Buddhist memorial service for keka (a confession of one's sins))
It goes without saying that it is a central part of this event.

During hongyo, Jyuichimen Keka Ho is done six times a day (called rokuji). The six Buddhist memorial services have the names respectively, which are called "nicchu" (the time roughly from 10:00 to 14:00), "nichimotsu" (afternoon (roughly from 14:00 to 18:00)), "shoya" (evening (roughly from 18:00 to 22:00)), "hanya" (midnight (roughly from 0:00 to 2:00)), "goya" (the time from 2:00 to 6:00 in the morning) and "jinjo" (morning (roughly from 6:00 to 10:00)). The chanting contents, Fushimawashi (intonation), shosa (conduct) and so on vary depending on each rokuji. One Hirashu play the role of doshi in rotation and all of them chant shoku (verse) joining in the voice of doshi. This doshi is called Jidoshi (the member of Hirashu conducts the rhythm of chanting prayer in Shuni-e).

Keka Hoyo is done as follows:

In Sangegyodo, they go around shumidan strewing Haze (the stuff including glutinous rice scattered on the flour of Nigatsudo hall on Shuni-e) (ricecake) to solemnize the dojo (place of Buddhist practice or meditation) prior to Keka Hoyo and adore the virtue of Kanzeon Bosatsu (the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy).

In Daishugan, Daidoshi states the purpose of gyoho on behalf of all and chants it in kanon (Han reading of Chinese characters). "南無教主 釈迦如来" reads as "Nobokoshu Seikyajorai."

In Keka, after chanting the names of various Buddhas, they chorus shoku reckoning up the figure or kudoku of Eleven-faced Kannon and adore repeatedly by each verse. There is no verse of the confession of sins.

In hogo (to chant the name of Kanzeon Bosatsu and bow repeatedly), they chant the myogo (name of the Buddha) of Kanzeon Bosatsu and bow repeatedly, led by Jidoshi.

While they repeat "Namukan jizai bosatsu," it becomes "Namukanjizai, Namukanjizai" and is shortened to "Namukan, Namukan," and they come to feel higher and higher. At last they end up chanting solemnly "Namukimeichoreidaijidaihikanjizaison." Around the end of hogo, one of Hirashu goes to rai-do hall, does gotai-tochi (a prostration in which both hands, legs and head are pressed to the ground) and expresses his heart of repentance through his body. Oisange and gogyodo (making a spiritual barrier between our world and the after-death world prior to the end of Shuni-e) follow and it ends up with ekomon (a verse that transfers merit back to Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and past teachers for their further empowerment to bring beings to the way of the Buddha).

Daidoshi saho (the ritual performed by Daidoshi in Shuni-e) and Dokuju (Chanting Sutras) of a family register of deaths. Shoya and goya are called "Taiji" (keka (a confession of one's sins) performed especially both on evening and midnight at Shuni-e) and treated in a special courteous manner and after Keka ritual, "Daidoshi saho" and "Shushi saho" (the ritual performed by Shushi in Shuni-e) are done.

In Daidoshi saho, they read the name of the incumbent Prime Minister, the Cabinet officials, the chief justice of the Supreme Court and so on and pray for their good works to bring the peaceful world and the affluent life for the national, as well as mourning the bodhi (enlightenment) of the spirits of the Emperor Shomu, successive Emperors, those who were linked with Todai-ji Temple and those who were killed in wars or natural disasters around Japan.

During Daidoshi saho in shoya, "Jinmyocho" (the list of deities) was read. It is also the event of Shinto. Around 13,700 names of gods or shrines are read up and invited (kanjo, ceremonial transfer of a divided tutelary deity to a new location). Allegedly, Onyumyojin, who was the origin of Omizutori, went fishing and was late for this.

Also Dokuju of a family register of deaths is done two times on March 5 and 12. In Dokuju of a family register of deaths, the names of those who have linked with Todai-ji Temple since the Emperor Shomu are read resonantly.

Concerning this, there is a sort of Kaidan (Ghost Stories).
When the priest called Jukei read a family register of deaths during the Kamakura period, a lady ghost wearing a blue cloth appeared and said "Why did you skip my name in the family register of deaths?"
She asked why he skipped her name. Jukei read "Shoe no nyonin (a lady wearing a blue cloth)" between his teeth and then she disappeared contentedly. Even now it is the custom to read between his teeth when reading "Shoe no nyonin."

Shushi saho and Dattan no gyoho (the ritual of Dattan)
In Shushi saho, Shushi goes around shumidan, sprinkles purified water (Shasui), chants a spell making symbolic signs with the fingers and so on, which is a ceremony of Esoteric Buddhism. It is a part of this to tinkle a bell and do kanjo for Shitenno (four guardian kings) in four directions.

Dattan no gyoho is done during Shushi saho of goya for three days after March 12.

In Dattan no gyoho, eight Rengyoshu under Dotsukasa wear Dattanbo like a kabuto (helmet) and look bizarre, and after they purify the dojo, "Katen, Agni" with a big flaming Taimatsu torch and "Suiten, Varuna" with a barrel of Shasui go around shumidan and jump up and down, sticking out the torch to the rai-do hall many times. When Shushi says "Hatta," the Taimatsu torch is slammed down on the floor. It is the most valiant and mysterious event in Shuni-e.

When they return to Sanrojukusho (lodging at the north of Nigatsudo hall in Todaiji Temple) after finishing all the gyoho on that day, they run down stone stairway calling each other "Chozu chozu." "Chozu" refers to washing hands or a toilet. On one occasion, when they returned after gyoho, they saw that a group of Tengu (long-nosed goblin) came and imitated gyoho, and thus, in order for Tengus to think mistakenly they would go to a toilet, they called each other like this.

Otaimatsu (means "Shuni-e")
As a symbolic event of Shuni-e, there is "Otaimatsu" where they brandish the flaming Taimatsu torch on the stage of Nigatsu-do Hall. This Taimatsu torch is called the Taimatsu torch of jodo (to enter into a hall of temple) and originally it is lighted up as a street light when Rengyoshu go up Noboriro to begin gyoho of shoya, where one of Doji holds up the Taimatsu torch and one of Rengyoshu follows him and after they go in, they bring the torch on the stage (parapet) and brandish the fire. After that, they go to the backside and extinguish the fire in a cistern and go down Noboriro on which they went up. Hongyo is done every day during the event and on March 12 it is interesting to watch it because a much larger Kago Taimatsu torch (twenty-six feet long) appears. And only on March 12, 11 Taimatsu torches go in the dojo. And on other days, 10 Taimatsu torches go in the dojo. On the days except on March 12, Shinnyu go in the dojo in advance and prepare, thus the number of them is 10, but only on March 12 after they prepare they go out of the dojo, thus the number of those who go in the dojo is 11. As for this Kago Taimatsu torch, the length is 8 meters and the weight is 70 kilograms and it has a root to bring a balance. As for the Taimatsu torches on the other days, the length is 6 to 8 meters and the weight is 40 kilograms. Except for Kago Taimatsu torch, Doji make them beside Jiki-do Hall in the early morning of the day when they are used. It takes one to two years to gather the materials. Year after year it becomes difficult to gather the materials.

It is believed that exposure to the sparks of Taimatsu torch brings health or happiness. Many believers bring back the burnt embers and make it the substitute of gofu (talisman).

The Otaimatsu on March 12 has twenty thousand to thirty thousand visitors in some years. However, on March 12, it is very crowded and there are regulations, lightings, broadcasts and so on and thus the atmosphere is not good. You should see it on the first half days.

Gyoho of running

Gyoho of running is done for three days from March 5 and for three days from March 12 before Keka ritual of goya. They adore Butsumen (the head of a Buddha) of eleven faces of honzon, Eleven-faced Kannon, saying "Namuchojo," "Namusaijo" and so on, and, going around shumidan, they go in rai-do hall one by one and do gotai-tochi. The steps gradually become faster and firstly they put on wooden shoes, but later they put them off and at last they come to run barefoot. This gyoho originates from the legend of Jicchu kasho as mentioned above.

Omizutori (Water-Drawing Festival)
During Shushi saho of goya on March 12 (at 1 am on March 13), being illuminated with the Taimatsu torch called Hasu taimatsu (a torch five-feet long, hasu means lotus), Shushi goes down stone stairway in the south side with five Rengyoshu and head for Akaiya (a well) (alias, Wakasai).

While many visitors watch this, gagaku (ancient Japanese court dance and music) is played and the march goes on solemnly. On the way they drop in a small shrine, do Buddhist memorial service, go in Akaiya with some Dojis and lave fragrant water. They put the fragrant water in the bucket called Akaoke (a wooden bucket), put it on a board decorated with sakaki (species of evergreen sacred to Shinto) and carry it into Naijin. The fragrant water is stored in a fragrant water jug under shumidan, is dedicated to honzon and is used as water for kyoka (kuge (offering of flowers (at shrine, grave, etc.), floral tribute)).

This water is said to have been dedicated to honzon in Nigatsu-do Hall as an apology because Onyumyojin in Wakasa was late for the meeting of the Gods and the event "Omizuokuri (on March 2)," where water is sent to this well, is held in Jingu-ji Temple (temples associated with shrines) in Obama city (Wakasa) even now. After Omizutori is over, Shushi saho is reopened.

Gyoho of non-retrogression
Since Shuni-e in Todai-ji Temple began in 752, it has been passed down until now without cessation and is "gyoho of non-retrogression" which continues as long as Todai-ji Temple exists. Even when Nigatsu-do Hall was lost by fire in 1667 "Shuni-e' was held in Sangatsu-do Hall and during and after the Pacific War, when various events had to be cancelled because of wartime shortage, it continued to be held. It has been held 1257 times for 1257 years until now, including the one held in March 2008.

Shusho-e (New Year's Service) in Todai-ji Temple
In addition to Shuni-e, Shusho-e is also held in Todai-ji Temple. This is a simple one held only on January 7, but there are shoya and goya events, and on shoya they confess their sins to Nyoirin Kannon (the Bodhisattva of Compassion) and on goya many Buddhist memorial services such as reibutsu ge and so on are held.

Shuni-e and art
The electronic music "Telemusik" by German composer Stockhauzen is the work in which the sounds collected by the composer himself around the world are blended with the electronic sounds and as a symbolic sound of Japan the sound of gagaku and Shomyo of Omizutori are chosen. In fact, Stockhauzen visited Nara in 1966 and watched Omizutori.

Japanese composer Minao SHIBATA composed "Shuni-e san" (Praise of Shuni-e) in 1978. It is a theater piece (chorus drama), where, in addition to Shomyo of Todai-ji Temple, a part of Kegon-kyo Sutra or the haiku of Issa KOBAYASHI, Ryota OSHIMA and Basho MATSUO are used as texts, and Tokyo Philharmonic Chorus, which is delegated to play, firstly performed it in the same year.

Japanese singer and songwriter Masashi SADA composed the musical composition "Shuni-e" whose theme is this event (songwriting : Masashi SADA, packed in the album "Aimite no") in 1993. SADA composed many works whose motif is classical, ethnical and Buddhistic and this song is one of them. SADA has a link with the chief abbot of Todai-ji Temple and so on and when the statue of Birushana Buddha in Todai-ji Temple was drastically repaired during the Showa period, he held a rakkei hoyo (a memorial service to celebrate the construction of a temple) concert.

When watching Dattan no gyobo, the critic Hideo KOBAYASHI said one word "Bach."

As for painters, Kenkichi SUGIMOTO, Kokuta SUDA and so on painted pictures associated with Shuni-e.

As for photographers, Taikichi IRIE had watched Shuni-e for more than thirty years from around 1946 and photographed it. After such photographing, IRIE published the photo album called "Omizutori" by Sansaisha (publishing company) in 1968 and the one "Todaiji Temple and Omizutori" by Shueisha Inc. in 1981.

The photographer Ken DOMON photographed Shuni-e in Todai-ji Temple in 1967 and next year the photographs appeared on the feature article in January issue of the magazine "Taiyo (the sun)" by Heibonsha Limited, Publishers.

Shuni-e in Yakushi-ji Temple (Hanae-shiki (Buddhist mass celebrating Buddha's Birthday))
Shuni-e in Yakushi-ji Temple, commonly called "Hanae-shiki," is Yakushi keka ho (the keka (confession of one's sins) dedicated for Yakushi nyorai) which is held from March 30 to April 5 every year. On April 5 "Onioi-shiki" (the ceremony driving demons out) is held as Kechigan hoyo (the Buddhist memorial service for making wishes). As Shuni-e in Yakushi-ji Temple is called Hanae-shiki, ten kinds of imitation flowers are dedicated to the honzon Yakushi Nyorai (the Healing Buddha).

When Emperor Horikawa's Empress became sick and they prayed for her curing to the honzon in Yakushi-ji Temple and she got well again in 1107, they gratefully dedicated ten kinds of imitation flowers of Japanese apricot, peach, Japanese cherry and so on, made with Japanese paper, which is said to have been the origin of this event.

After Keka Hoyo is over at eight o'clock at night on April 5, "Onioi" is held. The black, blue and red parents and children of Oni (demons) with Taimatsu torches appear and shout and run around the temple. Later Bishamonten (Vaisravana) appears and drives them out. What is common with Dadaoshi (keka dedicated for eleven-faced Kannon) in Hase-dera Temple is that Onis appear at the end of Shuni-e.

Shusho-e is held from January 1 to 15 and Kissho keka (keka dedicated for Kissho tennyo), whose honzon is Kisshotennyo (Lakshmi), is held.

Shuni-e in Shin-Yakushi-ji Temple (Otaimatsu)
In Shin-Yakushi-ji Temple, on April 8 which is the festival day of the honzon Yakushi Nyorai, Yakushi keka ho (keka dedicated for Yakushi nyorai) is held. Eleven priests hold Buddhist memorial service of "nicchu" in collaboration with Todai-ji Temple from five o'clock in the evening and from seven o'clock eleven big Taimatsu torches do gyodo (the circular walk about a Buddha statue or stupa) in the temple. After that, keka of "shoya" is held.

Shuni-e in Horyu-ji Temple
It is held in Horyu-ji Temple Saien-do from February 1 to 3 every year.

It is a traditional event which has been held since 1261. "Yakushi keka" is done in front of the seated statue of the honzon Yakushi Nyorai.

On February 3 of Kechigan (expiration of term of a vow), Tsuinashiki (ceremony to drive out evil spirits) is held from around 7 pm. In Saien-do, black Oni, blue Oni and red Oni throw a Taimatsu torch, and Bishamonten appears and drives them out. It has something common with Shuni-e in Yakushi-ji Temple.

Shusho-e is also held in Kondo (the Golden Pavilion) of the Horyu-ji Temple from January 8 to 14 every year. This event has continued since 768 when it was held for the first time and is Kissho keka which is the keka dedicated for Kisshoten (Laksmi). Buddhist memorial services of jinjo, nicchu, nichimotsu, shoya, hanya and goya are done for seven days and they pray for peace of the nation, affluent life for the national and prosperity of temples.

Dadaoshi in Hase-dera Temple
In Hase-dera Temple, Keka Hoyo to the honzon Eleven-faced Kannon is held from February 8 to 14 for seven days every year. On February 14 of Kechigan, while the sounds of conch shells and drums resonate, "Dadaoshi," where Oni of red, blue and green color with a Taimatsu torch run around the temple, is held. There is a theory which claims that "Dada" of "Dadaoshi" has the same word origin as "Dattan" held in Todai-ji Temple.

[Original Japanese]