annual event


From January to March

From April to June

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From October to December




July

Second weekend
of July
Annual Festival at Yakumo Shrine
Portable shrines will parade on the streets of Zaimokuza district.
15th Segaki or the hungry-ghost-feeding rite at Kenchoji
Gaki is a famished devil or Preta in Skt. , one of the Six Stage in the netherworld. Simply put, this is a requiem mass for the repose of the departed souls, and all Buddhist temples except for Jodo Shin sect hold this mass. In case of Kenchoji, it holds twice, regular one and Kajiwara Segaki, which originates from a legend relating to Kagetoki Kajiwara (?-1200), a faithful retainer of Yoritomo Minamoto, the founder of the Kamakura Shogunate. At one time long ago, the moment the mass was over, a ghostly samurai on horseback arrived. Knowing his arrival too late, he appeared so sad that the chief priest held an extra mass for him. Later, he disclosed that he was the ghost of Kajiwara. Since then Kenchoji holds an extra mass called Kajiwara Segaki. The rite is held mostly by chanting sutra.
Third Sunday
of July
Ishigami Festival at Goryo Shrine
After Shinto rituals, several young men go to the shore and swim, with a bowl of parboiled rice with red beans, to the point from where Enoshima {eh-no-she-mah}, a small island in the neighboring city of Fujisawa, can be seen, in other words, the point where the divinized stone was supposed to have been sitting, and drop the rice into the sea. Rice boiled with red beans is called sekihan {seh-key-han} or "red rice" and often served on auspicious or festive occasions.
23rd and 24th Jizo Festival at Hokaiji
The Jizo Bosatsu statue is Hokaiji's main object of worship.
24th Convention for Priest Niccho at Hongakuji
Priest Niccho (1422-1500) was the second chief priest of Hongakuji and known as a great adherent of Nichiren sect Buddhism.

August

7th - 9th Paper-Lantern (Bonbori) Festival at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
Roughly 400 paper-lanterns with hand-drawn pictures and poems are displayed in the shrine's precincts day and night. Passing through the large ring made of grass rope (called chinowa) is believed to give you good health.
9th Sanetomo Festival
In honor of the Third Shogun's artistic achievements, this festival takes place at Shirahata sub-shrine on his birthday.
10th 46,000-day-visit at Sugimoto-dera, Hase-dera, An-yo-in etc.
Worshiping on this particular day is said to be worthwhile visiting 46,000 times.
10th Black Jizo Festival at Gakuonji
August 10 every year is the day to venerate this Jizo and a religious service for him starts at twelve midnight with gongs of bell and attended by a number of Shingon sect priests chanting Han'nya shingyo {han-nya shin-gyo} or Prajna-paramita sutra. Religious people join this ceremony from the very beginning or before dawn at the latest. When August 10 falls on weekend, I usually visit here before noon. Even at this hour, the narrow road leading to the Temple, which would otherwise see few passersby, is crowded with lay worshipers. It is said that visiting and worshiping the Jizo on this particular day is worth visiting 46,000 times, and yet no admission is charged. But, it is customary to offer incenses and candles to the Jizo Bosatsu which costs us 300 yen. Placed near the Black Jizo are several hundreds of Jizo-Bosatsu figurines made from the 14th to 18th century and donated by parishioners. A pregnant woman can take home one to pray for an easy delivery, and if her wish is met, she has to bring it back with a new one. In front of the Jizodo, there stands a pole, from the top of which, long, white cloths hang on this day. It is believed that if worshipers pray for something holding this cloths, their wish will be fulfilled. People wait their turn forming a long queue. Young men and women seen among them may have had parents who were seriously ill and be praying to god for divine aid. Hope that once on a shore, they continue to pray.
13th Firework Festival
13-15th Bon (Ullabon in Skt.) Festival or the Buddhist All Souls' Day
The Bon festival days are to console the souls of the departed and also function as the day for the family unions. Though not national holidays, small businesses close their office and employees go back to their hometown. Employees of large companies take days off, like Easter days in the West, and go to their birthplace, where all family members gather and hold mass requiem for the ancestors. For the laity, the Bon is also a festival, and people enjoy folk dances held in school grounds or parks or even temple grounds. Engakuji, to name one, provides Kamakuraites with its temple courtyard for the dance. Many join it wearing Yukata, an informal kimono made of cotton and worn in summer. Exodus of urban residents heading off for their hometown starts immediately before August 12. Outbound trains are packed and bumper-to-bumper traffic is expected on expressway. After August 16, Tokyo bound trains and expressways are awfully crowded.
20th Annual Festival at Kamakuragu Shrine

September

12th Memorial Service for Botamochi at Jo-eiji
Botamochi is a rice-cake dumpling covered with bean paste. Legend says it was given to Priest Nichiren on his way being brought to the nearby execution ground called Tatsunokuchi in 1271. Nun Nichiei, an ardent follower of Priest Nichiren, appeared in front of him and presented the rice-cake. Nobody doubted that he would be executed within hours. However, a miracle occurred at the last moment and Priest Nichiren was saved. To commemorate this miracle, the temple hold memorial service for Priest Nichiren and treats visitors with botamochi.
14th, 15th
and 16th
Annual Festival at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
Mikoshi or portable shrine will be carried and horseback archery will be performed before spectators. On the Ritual Dance Stage inside the precincts, Japanese dancing will be performed. On 15th in particular, Shinko Festival takes place with a trio of portable shrines and procession of divine horses.
18th Mengake {men-gah-keh} or Masked Parade at Goryo Jinja shrine
A group of ten (8 men and 2 women) wearing grotesque or comical masks will leave the shrine usually at 2:30 p.m. and parade through the nearby street accompanied by portable shrine and festive music.
19th and 20th Annual Festival at Kamakuragu Shrine
Open-air stalls sell various goods at the shrine grounds and street near the Shrine.
28th Memorial Service for Chasen {chah-sen} Kuyo at Kenchoji
Chasen is a bamboo whisk or tea-stirrer for making ceremonial tea. Kuyo is a memorial service. Enthusiasts of tea ceremony get together here and hold mass for Chasen. I asked the temple why the service is held on this particular day. The temple replied they did not know.


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