June 15 is the birthday of Kobodaishi, the founder of Koyasan and Shingon Buddhism. The weather was not totally expected to be fine or even oppositely. But it was blessed by Kobodaishi's virtue and even rain waited to its fall. Not only whole town but worshippers all over Japan get together at Koyasan and celebrate Kobodaishi's birthday in many ways.
People from Kagawa, one of the 4 prefectures in Shikoku Island where Kobodaishi was born and later opened his pilgrimage route, have participate in the parade in their pilgrimage costume. How well organized their beautiful dancing are!
Here are just a part of the floats, dancers in Koyasan and high school students there. I didn't expect high school boys and girls danced so active and cheerfully.
Young priests also participate in the parade and spread pieces of paper called "sangue" whose shape is a lotus petal*. Sangue is widely given in the Buddhist services or ceremonies to hold some memorial services for Buddha or the Saint like Kobodaishi. People who get these are grateful to Buddha for his virtue.
MISAISHOKO is originally the special rites to chant and praise the sutra written by Kobo Daishi,
"KONKOMYOSAISHO-OHGYO" to pray for the prosperity of the country and the imperial messenger participate the rites. Later its form has changed into question and answer and last 2 days.
After completing this, 2 senior priests can make their way to get the special title called "JOGO."
Mandokuyo-e （Candle Festival)
night on August 13, the approaches to Okunoin and the lantern hall are decorated with numerous candle lights handed to visitors by local participants of boy scouts, girl scouts and sports teams.
It is called “Candle Festival”, a kind of Bon Festival. Bon Festival is a Buddhist event occurring from the 13th to 16th of August to hold a memorial service to the spirits of ancestors.
The spirits of the dead are said to return at this time and fires are lit so the spirits do not lose their way, and lanterns are lit inside homes too. At home, the Buddhist family altars are tidied up and vegetables and fruit are set out as offerings.
In some places, Bon dancing is held to comfort the spirits.Anyway, visitors can also think about their ancestors and offer candles along the path. And whole area looks very mysterious and beautiful.
This year, the newspaper said about 30,000 people joined this candle festival.
11pm on 14th Feb. ~ 11am on 15th Feb. at Ohiroma in Kongobuji
Joraku-E is a Buddhist ceremony dedicated to Shakyamuni Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. It is held on the night of 14th February to commemorate the day that Shakyamuni entered the Nirvana. In Koyasan, nearly one hundred Buddhist monks gather to chant all night long, from 11pm on 14th till 11am on 15th February.
This long chanting consists of four parts to express their faith in Buddhism.
10pm/14th Feb.: Buddhist monks gather in the Kongobuji temple.
11pm/14th Feb.: Bell sounds tell the time to start.
Student monks welcome the senior monks.
1am/15th Feb.: [Part-1] Chanting for the Nirvana
To express their worship and sorrow of losing him.
3am/15th Feb.: [Part-2] Chanting for the 16 Disciples in charge of saving sentient beings
To express his virtue and to swear delivering his precious words.
6am/15th Feb.: Interval
7am/ 15th Feb.: [Part-3] Chanting for Sacred Places
To reflect the sacred places Shakyamuni visited
9am/ 15th Feb.: [Part-4] Chanting for Buddha’s ash
To express their everlasting worship of Shakyamuni and his ash.
11am/15th Feb.: Jorakue is over
The word “Joraku-e” consists of three words: Jo (= invariant), raku (= tranquil), and e (= ceremony).
So, Joraku-e is the ceremony of the invariant tranquility, the Nirvana.
This is impressive and one of the must-see events in Koyasan.
Open to the public. Free of charge. No reservation.