Plans to Honor Shinran Shonin Underway

The Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha is busy preparing a full slate of events to commemorate the 850th birthday of Jodo Shinshu founder Shinran Shonin in 2023.


The joint celebration in Kyoto, Japan, will also honor the 800th anniversary of the establishment of Shinran’s teachings.


“Approximately 800 years ago, Shinran Shonin deeply looked into himself and became aware through his own experiences that we cannot free ourselves from our blind passions, that is, our self-promoting way of thinking,” the Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha stated in a news release.


“However, he also encountered Amida Buddha’s aspiration, which the Buddha pledges to guide everyone to realization, leaving no one behind. Shinran Shonin expressed his appreciation for the Buddha’s boundless compassion through the way he lived his life, and we should follow his example for living our own,” the statement continued. “The dual commemorative service will be conducted in the spirit of expressing our gratitude for his guidance, as well as our joy of encountering the Jodo Shinshu teaching.”


A commemorative design for the joint celebration and a detailed schedule of services, and special services for designated groups -- as well as a detailed list of Hongwanji affiliated historical sites, including the Otani Mausoleum and Hino birthplace -- have already been outlined.


The design features two crests that are embossed over a reddish-brown brocade background made up of pine needles woven within a ginkgo leaf-shaped silhouette. The two crests are of the “sagarifuji” (hanging wisteria) and “tsuru” (crane) motifs.


The “tsuru” crest showing two facing cranes has been adopted from the crest of the aristocratic Hino family into which Shinran Shonin was born. The pine needle design represents the birth name of Shinran Shonin, “Matsuwaka,” which is composed of the two Chinese characters for “pine” and “young.” The gingko leaf pattern is associated with the gingko tree that stands on the Inada Gobo temple grounds where Shinran Shonin is believed to have written his lifework, “Kyogyoshinsho.”


The continuous design of the background pattern expresses the bonds of connection between Nembutsu followers through the ages embraced by Shinran Shonin’s Nembutsu path.


The service schedule for the joint celebration is scheduled to begin March 29, 2023, and runs until May 21, 2023, with a total of five sessions, and six days for each session. There will be two services each day. The daily schedule will include a morning and evening service, Dharma talks and morning and afternoon confirmation ceremonies.


There are special services planned: for those who are either new to Buddhism or to Jodo Shinshu; for parents and children; and for students enrolled at Ryukoku Sogo Gakuen affiliated schools.


In addition, there will be specific services for the following organizations: Dharma School Association; Scouts Association; Monto Suishinin (lay leaders); Adult Buddhist Association and Young Buddhist Association; and Federation of Buddhist Women’s Associations. A special exhibition titled “Life and Mementos of Shinran” will be held at the Kyoto National Museum to mark the 850th anniversary of Shinran Shonin’s birth.


For more information about the joint celebration, go to: https://international.hongwanji.or.jp/html/850800_Joint_Celebration.html


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