Friday, February 25, 2011

Events around Nara Park (March 2011)

Around Nara Park:

Feb.1(tue)- March 10(thr) Shika-yose (Deer Herding)

With a sound of horn deer gathers to get feeds. Horn plays the Pastoral Symphony by Beethoven.

10:00~10:15 @Tobihino Field (open field near the main approach of Kasuga Grand Shrine)

March 1(tue) – March 14(mon) Syuni-e in Todaiji Temple

Syuni-e literary means “a ritual ceremony held in February”. On behalf of all the people, monks repent sins to Kannon Bodhisattva. Some Syuni-e are held in March following the lunar calendar.

@February Hall in Todaiji Temple

Todaiji Temple’s Syuni-e is popularly known as Omizutori(Water Drawing Ritual) or Otaimatsu(Torches). Otaimatsu is especially popular among tourists for the size of torches used and the grand view of falling sparks. Torches used in Otaimatsu are about 6 meters long and weighs about 40kg. The biggest torch appearing on March 12 is about 8 meters long and weighs about 70kg.

March 1 – March 11 / 19:00~19:20 / 10 torches

March 12 / 19:30~20:15 / 11 torches

March 13 / 19:00~19:20 / 10 torches

March 14 / 18:30~18:35 / 10 torches

*Sundays and Saturdays and March 14 are crowded.

*March 12 is especially crowded. Number of people entering February Hall area will be controlled. Every year twenty to thirty thousand people come on this day, but viewing area can accommodate only three to four thousand people.

March 5(sat) – 6(sun) Nara Sweets Market

11:00~17:00 @ Nara Merchant Seed Center on Mochiidono Street

Seven sweets shops of Nara favored by locals gather at one location for your convenience. Try some and find out your favorite Nara sweets!

March 12(sat) Special Viewing of a “naked Jizo” Statue

9:00~16:00 @ Denkoji Temple

Jizo Bodhisattva Statue of Denkoji Temple is nicknamed “naked Jizo.” Most Buddhist statues are curved with some clothes on, but this statue was curved in a naked form. The statue wears actual kimono instead.

March 13(sun) Kasuga-sai Festival

Kasuga-sai Festival is the most important of all festivals held in Kasuga Grand Shrine. An imperial envoy attends this festival. Peace and welfare of the nation is prayed.

9:00~12:00 @ Kasuga Grand Shrine

*Only the rituals held along the main approach (from the second Torii gate onward) are available for public viewing. A procession of an imperial envoy, Shinto priests and others in traditional costumes is a pretty view (9:00~).

March 15(tue) Otaue-Shinji Ritual

11:00~ @ Kasuga Grand Shrine

Otaue means rice planting. In this ritual, maidens dance to a traditional rice planting song to pray for rich harvest. Maidens’ dance gestures rice planting.

March 19(sat) – 21(mon) The 19th Deer Cracker Throwing Contest

@ Wakakusa-yama Hill

This is a unique contest competing the distance of a deer cracker thrown. Among the crowds watching the contest are deer trying to eat deer crackers thrown by contestants. The winner will be awarded with deer antlers!

Entry starts 9:30~ (entry fee: 300yen)

Contest is scheduled to start 10:00~

* During contest entry into Wakakusa-yama Hill is free.

Late March to early April (while the flower is in bloom) “Samurai” Camellia

9:00~16:00 @ Denkoji Temple (fee: 300yen)

Unlike usual ones, camellias at Denkoji Temple shed their flowers petal by petal like a cherry blossom. Beautifully falling petals remind people of a samurai spirit - “be gracious in defeat.” For this people call Denkoji Temple’s camellias “samurai” camellia.

*Last year camellia bloomed around March 20.

Around Kintetsu Yamato Saidaiji Station:

March 20(sun) –April 7(thu) Special Viewing of a Hidden Statue

9:00~17:00 @ Hokkeji Temple

A national treasure Kannon Bodhisattva statue is open for the public viewing.

March 21(mon) Nara Brush Festival

10:00~15:00 @ Sugawara Tenmangu Shrine

This is a thanksgiving festival for your old used brushes. There will be a mass for old brushes. You can buy new brushes, and you can also try a brush making at the festival.

March 23(wed) – April 7(thu) Special Viewing of a Hidden Statue

9:00~17:00 @ Kairyuouji Temple

An important cultural property Kannon Bodhisattva statue is open for the public viewing. Kairyuouji Temple is known as a temple to pray for “a safe trip abroad.”

Around Horyuji and Nishino-kyo:

March 1(tue) – April 10(sun) Special Viewing of Treasure Hall

@ Yakushiji Temple

March 1(tue) – March 21(mon) Special Viewing of the Inside of West Pagoda

11:00~11:30/ 13:00~13:30/ 15:00~15:30 @ Yakushiji Temple

What is the inside of a pagoda look like? Go to Yakushiji Temple and find it out!

March 1(tue) – March 21(mon) Special Viewing of the Inside of East Pagoda

@ Yakushiji Temple (fee: 500yen for this special viewing)

What is the inside of a pagoda look like? Go to Yakushiji Temple and find it out! East Pagoda stands since 8th century.

March 21(mon) Oeshiki Taiya Ceremony

18:00~ @ Syoryo-in (Hall of Prince Shotoku’s Soul) in Horyuji Temple

Oeshiki Taiya Ceremony is a ceremony held in the eve of Oeshiki, a ceremony to commemorate the founder of a Buddhist school. This is not a tourist popular ceremony, but if you go you can have a very close look at the hidden statues of this hall after the ceremony ends.

March 22(tue) – March 24(thu) Oeshiki Ceremony in Horyuji Temple

Oeshiki is a memorial service held to commemorate the founder of a Buddhist school/sect. For Horyuji Temple the founder is Prince Shotoku, also known as the father of Japanese Buddhism.

Ritual: March 22/ 13:00 ~ @ Daikodo(Great Lecture Hall)

*This year’s ritual is a grand ritual ceremony held once in every 10 years.

Special Viewing of Statues: March 22 – 24 @ Syoryo-in (Hall of Prince Shotoku’s Soul)

*Statues of Prince Shotoku and others enshrined in this Hall are open to the public only for these three days.

* The altar in Syoryo-in (Hall of Prince Shotoku’s Soul) is decorated with offertory foods. Those foods, uniquely piled up, are one of the attractions.

March 28(mon) Ominugui or Cleaning of Buddhist Statues

13:00 ~ @ Yakushiji Temple

This is a part of a preparation for upcoming Syuni-e Ceremony in Yakushiji Temple.

March 30(wed) – April 5(tue) Syuni-e in Yakushiji Temple

Syuni-e literary means “a ritual ceremony held in February”. On behalf of all the people, monks repent sins to Medicine Buddha. Some Syuni-e are held in March following the lunar calendar.

@ Yakushiji Temple

Syuni-e at Yakushiji Temple is popularly known as Hana-eshiki or Flowery Ceremony. Handmade paper flowers offered to the Yakushi (Medicine) Buddha beautifully decorate the altar.


Syuni-e Rituals:

March 30 / 19:00 ~ and 20:30 ~

March 31 – April 4 / 3:00 ~, 4:30 ~, 13:00~, 14:30 ~, 19:00 ~ and 20:30 ~

April 5 / 3:00 ~, 4:30 ~, 13:00~, 14:30 ~, 19:00 ~ (the last ritual)

Jingu (a ritual to wish for a successful completion of Syuni-e): April 5 / 18:30~

Oni-oi (Drive Away Evils) Ceremony: April 5 / 20:30 ~

* At Oni-oi Ceremony, demon figures brandish torches. Watch out for fire sparks!

#Events during Syuni-e#

Open Air Tea Ceremony: March 31 – April 5 / 10:30~15:00

Offertories of dance, music, etc: March 31 – April 4 / 13:00~

>March 31: Offertory of flower by Japanese flower arrangement master & Taiko (Japanese drum music)

>April 1: Offertory of incense & Noh dance

>April 2: Offertory of tea & Bugaku(traditional Japanese music and dance)

>April 3: Offertory of Taisho harp music & Procession of children in traditional costumes (If it rains, procession may be cancelled.)

>April 4: Homa Ritual& Procession of children in traditional costumes


Friday, February 11, 2011

Lucky charm for examinees

 The new term starts in April in Japan.
This is just the season of entrance examinations, so lots of examinees are spending uneasy days.

 To cheer them up, some different types of charms have recently appeared.
This pentagonal pencil is one of them.
The word "pentagon" is pronounced "gokaku" in Japanese, which is the similar sound of the word meaning "pass".

 There might be some students having pentagonal pencils
in their pencil case.
 Good luck to examinees!


Monday, February 7, 2011

Treasures of Todai-ji's Omizutori Ritual

People say Omizutori or Water Drawing Ritual at the Todaiji Temple brings spring to Nara.

An exhibition focusing on Omizutori Ritual is held in Nara National Museum. As well as paintings and documents showing history of and people's faith in Omizutori Ritual, equipment used during the ritual are on display. My favourite exhibit is Kamiko, a paper-made clothe wore and handmade by monks attending the ritual.

Omizutori Ritual is one of the most tourist popular rituals held annually in Nara. Visit the museum before going to the ritual to enjoy it more. Of course, joining a Nara Walk tour and listing histories and stories about Omizutori Ritual would enhance your experience even more!

Duration: ~2011.3.14
Closed on Mondays except for Feb. 14, Mar. 7 and Mar. 14.
Hours: 9:30~17:00
*Feb.8-14 till 21:00, Mar.1-11 till 18:00, Mar. 12 till 19:00, Mar. 13 and 14 till 18:00
*Entrance permitted until 30 min before the closing time.
Admission: Adults 500yen, Univ. Students 250yen
*Seniors(70 and older) and those 18 and under are free.
*Half price off for married couples on Feb. 22.
Access: click here

Omizutori Ritual will be held from Mar.1 to 14 in Todaiji Temple.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Morimura Yasumasa A Requiem: Art on Top of the Battlefield

What was your 20th century like?

Morimura Yasumasa is an artist known for self-portrait photos in which he poses as models in famous paintings or movie actresses. In an exhibition titled "A Requiem: Art on Top of the Battlefield" held at Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art, Morimura poses as famous male figures from the 20th century. Albert Einstein, Adolf Hitler, Guevara, and Mishima Yukio in the poster above are all Morimura.

What will you make of his requiem of the 20th century?

Duration: ~2011.4.10
Closed on Mondays(except for March 21) and on March 22
Sunday to Thursday 10:00-18:00 (entrance permitted until 17:30)/
Friday and Saturday 10:00-20:00 (entrance permitted until 19:30)

Admission: Adults 12ooyen, University Students 900yen, Seniors(65 and older) and High School Students 600yen, Junior High School and Elem. School Students are Free
Access: click here

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