annual event


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From July to September

 From October to December 




October

3rd Memorial Service for the founding priest at Engakuji
The founding priest is Sogen Mugaku. His wooden statue will be placed in the Main Hall. Priests belonging to the Engakuji group get together here and hold memorial service for the great Zen master.
First Sunday
of October
Memorial Service for Dolls at Hongakuji
This ceremony started rather recently. At the guest hall of the Temple, doll lovers hold an exhibition of dolls every autumn. It is a popular show among the doll fans and many appreciate the event. At the same time, they felt that throwing away old dolls was just pitiful and awful. For them, dolls are like babies or family members. This feeling eventually led to a motive that old dolls should be properly treated holding memorial services for them. The Temple accepted their request and the first service started in 1983. While the priests recite sutra, the old dolls are burned and ashes are dedicated to the doll mound in the temple courtyard. The Japanese do not like to throw away what they loved for a long period of time simply because they got too old. Similar rituals are held at other temples for dead timepieces, old photos, etc.
Second weekend
of October:
Takigi {tah-key-ghe} Noh Play at Kamakuragu Shrine hosted by Kamakura Tourist Association
Open-air Noh play is performed starting at 5:30 p.m. and ending 8:00 p.m. All lights will be extinguished before the play to make the area dark and firewood will be burned to create an elegant atmosphere. Takigi literally means "firewood burning". Okina is the regular number played and sung at the very beginning every year. Some 3,000 spectators join the event on this night. If you want to join, you have to make request to the Association in advance with reply-paid postcard to the Association.
12th to 15th Ojuya {o-jew-ya} Chanting at Komyoji
For three days and night, priests at Komyoji sit in front of the statue of Amida (Amitabha in Skt.) in the main hall and continue to recite sutras. Originally, it used to be a service practiced by Jodo sect Buddhist and they chant sutra for ten days and nights continuously from October 6 to 15 on lunar calendar. Ju means "ten" and ya "night".
28th Bunboku {boon-bok} Festival at Shirahata Shrine, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu
In commemoration of Sanetomo Minamoto, the Third Shogun, and his literary talent, a party is held.

November

Early November Treasure-display at Kenchoji and Engakuji
Treasures owned by the temples which otherwise are closed to the public will be displayed during these days, normally three days including Culture Day, under the name of Homotsu Kazeire {hoh-mo-tsu kah-zeh-e-reh} (literally, airing of the treasure to free from insects). A rare chance to take a closer look at those treasures. Admission: 500 yen.
8th through 10th Autumn Display of Shariden at Engakuji
Shariden will be open to the public for an extra fee of 300 yen, but visitors are not allowed to go inside the structure.

December

1st through 8th Musha Matsuri {moo-sha mah-tsu-re} or Samurai Festival
Various festivities will take place in the city. Among them are: Kusajishi Archery at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu on December 1st, Samurai procession on 8th.
8th Shodo-e {sho-doh-eh}
The Lord Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment or Nirvana on this day. Religious services called Shodo-e are performed in many temples.
16th Gochinza {go-chin-zah} Festival at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine
Gochinza means the "start-up of the Shrine" and the Shrine was established at the present site on this day of 1191. The ritual begins after sunset at 5:30 p.m. Firewood are lighted at the Shrine's grounds and a foursome shrine-maidens begin a ritual dance followed by priests' dance wearing white robes.
18th A year-end Fair at Hase-dera
On the approach to the Temples stand many open-air stalls and sell such items as we usually buy in preparation for the New Year.
31st The Watch-Night Bell at temples throughout Japan start ringing at midnight to signal the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. The bells which will be rung 108 times as the year changes are believed to erase all our sins and rarefy our earthly desires and evil passions which are said to count 108. Some temples (Engakuji, Kaizoji, Komyoji, Jokomyoji, Jochiji, Zuisenji, Sugimoto-dera, Tokeiji, Hasedera, Hokaiji, Hongakuji, Manpukuji, Myohoji, etc) allow visitors to ring the bell on first-come, first-served basis, but only one ring per person.

Though Shinto shrines do not carry bells, they also perform year-end rites, and purification rituals starts at 12 midnight. Worshipers rush to shrines to offer the first-of-the-year prayer immediately after the clock hit 12 o'clock. Come year-end, the Japanese exodus begins again just like in Bon Festival and metropolitan Tokyo becomes like a ghost town as residents rush to their hometown.


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