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Nov 1, 2013

放生寺で放生会 Hojo-e Ceremony at Hosho-ji Temple 

放生会ってご存知でしょうか?
広重の作品の中に放生会が出てきて、私は初めて知りました。
(この作品は次回ご紹介しますね。)
放生会とは文字通り「生き物を放す」ということ。
毎年8月15日江戸の人々は鳥、魚、亀などの生き物を買い集めて逃がしてやり、日常の罪を清め、生き物に感謝したんだそうです。

Until recently, I didn't know anything about Hojo-e ceremony.
But one of Hiroshige's work is about this ceremony (it will be my next post), and I learned that it was a common custom among Edo people.
"Hojo" writes "放生" in Japanese and it means "releasing life." 
On August 15th, they bought little animals, such as birds, fish, or turtles from vendors and released them.  
It was to remember and thank all the animals who gave their life to us.

西早稲田にある、その名も放生寺では、なんと今でも毎年体育の日に放生会を行っているとか。
というわけで、行ってみることにしました。

This custom is long gone, I thought.
But I learned that a temple in Nishi-Waseda, Hosho-ji temple, still holds this ceremony, not on the 15th of August, but on the second Monday in October.

I decided to attend the ceremony.
 放生寺 Hosho-ji Temple

1641年高田八幡(穴八幡宮)の別当寺として開創。
徳川将軍家の崇信も厚く、「威盛院 光松山 放生寺」という寺号は1649年三代将軍家光がくださったものだとか。

The temple was established in 1641.
It was worshipped by Tokugawa Shoguns.  
In fact, the name Hosho-ji was given by the third Shogun Iemitsu in 1649. 

本殿  the main hall

法要はこの本殿で行われました。

The ceremony took place in this main hall. 

祭壇に赤い金魚2匹が泳ぐ金魚鉢を置き、5人のお坊さんが法要を行います。
途中からは参列者みんなで読経しました。(恥ずかしながら、私こんな読経は初めての経験でした!)
鐘や太鼓の音にびっくりしたのか、金魚鉢の中の金魚が大暴れ。
ちょっと心配しましたよ。

During the ceremony they set a fishbowl with two red goldfish on the alter.
Five priests, one in a yellow robe and the others in purple, sat around the alter and read a sutra, with accompanying bells and drums.
And we all read a sutra.  (I had never read a sutra that long in my life before.)
Fish in the bowl were wiggling frantically.  
I suppose they were surprised at the sound we were making.

さて、その後全員で外に出て、

Then, we all went outside.

本殿脇にある小さな池 a little pond right by the main hall

池に放す金魚たち goldfish to be released, to the pond (^^)

金魚を2匹ずつ、みんなが竹樋に流していきます。
金魚はするすると池に流れて行きました。

Each of us got two little goldfish in a cup, and poured it over the bamboo gutter. The fish flowed down into the pond.

最後にお札とこんなかわいい金魚をいただいて帰りました。

They gave us a talisman and one of these goldfish. 

お寺の方の手作りだそうです。 hand-made goldfish for us to take home

始めは単に好奇心から参加した放生会でしたが、参加して本当によかった!
なんだかとても心が洗われたように感じました。

To tell the truth, I went there out of mere curiosity.
But in the end, I was feeling very good, kind of, cleansed.
I'm very glad I attended this ceremony.


いただいたお札と金魚は、冷蔵庫にはって眺めています。

I'm keeping the talisman and the goldfish on my refrigerator.

「いきものをたいせつに」❤

The goldfish says "Treat  animals with respect."❤


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11 comments:

Rurousha said...

Hallo, Merry Witch! It feels as if I should add お久しぶりですね!

I had my busiest October ever, and when I finally popped in for another visit ... what a lovely post!

I'd love to attend but I could never chant the sutras, so it's better to pretend-attend via your post. :)

Merry Witch said...

Rurousha,
ほんとうにお久しぶりです。Is your war finally over? (^^)

You know, this was my first time chanting the sutras. I've attended many Buddhist services before, but I never had to chant. Here, they handed us a book and we read it aloud, me without knowing even a single word I'm reading.

But I really enjoyed it.(^_^)v

It seems some people came just to the let-the-fish-go part. Maybe you can join that?

Minoru Saito said...

こんばんは。穴八幡は私の母校の近くです。よく行きました。残念ながら方生寺は通り過ぎるだけで、その様な行事が有るとは知りませんでした。
 私の小さい頃は、母が穴八幡のお札「一陽来復」が大好きで、毎年、求めて家に貼ってました。
 私が学生のころは馬場下の交番が、学生運動家に襲われたり、大学で何々反対の学生ストライキが有ったりして、大変な時代でした。
 懐かしく読ませていただきました。

Merry Witch said...

Minoruさま
穴八幡宮の流鏑馬も見てきましたよ(これはまた後日アップする予定です。)穴八幡宮は大きくてとても立派でした。

「一陽来復」っていい言葉だなと思いました


Minoruさまの青春時代を少し垣間見た気がします。(^^)

Rurousha said...

The battle is over, not the war. :D

So how could you read the sutras? Were they written in hiragana? I've heard they can be written in very old Japanese or even Chinese or Indian scripts.

Maybe next year I'll come lurk behind a tree and observe from a distance. ^^

Dru said...

For a second I thought you put the goldfish IN your fridge. ;)

Sounds like a nice event. I should give it a try, but I don't know if I could even read the sutra. I would need it all in hiragana...

The goldfish does look nice though. Do they let dogs visit and "chant"? :D

Merry Witch said...

Rurousha and Dru,

The sutra has hiragana written alongside the Chinese characters. So, I'm sure you can try. (^^)

But one thing, I did not include in my post, because it was kind of difficult to explain...

There were 30 or so people in the hall, and many of them (not all of them) seemed to belong to this temple. When we were going to the pond after the ceremony, the lady of the temple handed us a bag (red-bean rice and red-and-white manju were in it). I had made no offering yet, and I felt odd receiving it, so I declined. But she gave it anyway. Then, I noticed, we can make offering of 1000 yen at the table with goldfish. I don't know if it was enough. But that's what I did.

They are too modest to tell us what we should do. I thought you should know.

Just releasing the goldfish part is a different story, I suppose.

But if you are interested and can read hiragara, why don't you give it a try ? (^^)

Dru, PLEASE leave your dogs home, though I know they are very smart and can "chant" well.(^_-)

キャラメル said...

現在、放生会 といった行事があることに驚きました。人間と生き物「鳥、犬 猫 その他」たくさんありますが、共存して時には私たちはそれらに癒されています。生きているものを大切にします。今年の夏、亀戸天神でこれと同じように金魚を池に放っていました。興味深く見ては来ましたが、放生会とは全く別のものです。新しい発見があり、これからも楽しみにしています。  

Merry Witch said...

キャラメルさま
わあっ!亀戸天神で金魚を池に放していたんですか?江戸時代には8月15日にやっていた放生会ですから、もしかしてそれも放生会?それともやっぱり別物のようでしたか?
なんだかわくわくします!またもやいい情報をいただきました。ありがとうございます。\(^o^)/

私も生きるているものを大切にしたいと思います。

Rurousha said...

I can try hiragana! OK, I'll remember to take an offering. I wonder what the temple will do if a confused-looking foreign obachan rocks up! ^^

Merry Witch said...

Rurousha,
If you can read hiragana, I'm sure it will be a fun experience.

They are so welcoming. They will be happy to have you there. (^^)