2023 "Gokaikaiji Memorial Service for the Hair Weaving Buddha" at Ryusenji Temple (Hokuryu-cho, Hokkaido) of the Honganji School of Shinshu Jodo, a secret Buddhist ceremony that has been held for 95 years.

Monday, August 21, 2023

On August 17 (Thu), the 2023 "Keori Hotoke Gokaijiku Hoyo" was solemnly held at Ryusenji Temple (Ryusen-ji Temple) of the Honganji School of Jodo Shinshu in Hokuryu-cho, Tokyo, under the auspices of the temple's head priest, Mr. Nobuaki Teragaki.

About 40 parishioners participated in the opening ceremony of the precious and secret "Hair Weaving Buddha (hanging scroll of the statue of the hairy Buddha)," which is open to the public only once a year, and enthusiastically chanted the Buddhist prayer and held their hands together.

Table of Contents

Hair (black and white hair) is woven into the "Hair Weaving Buddha".

The "hair weaving Buddha," said to be rare in Hokkaido, is a hanging scroll of the statue of Amida Nyorai completed in March 1928 at the request of Ryusenji's founder and chief priest, Teragaki Kyonobu, for the purpose of expanding the number of parishioners and proselytizing.

Several caretakers gathered together to collect donations of black hair from women and gray hair from men and beards from Hongwanji sect members in the Kita Sorachi, Hollow Sorachi, and Rumoi areas to create this precious textile, which was specially ordered from a Kyoto-based store specializing in Buddhist altar fittings.

The hair weaving Buddha has gold leaf on the front, and the materials used are silk, gold thread, and hair (black and white). The image of Amitabha Nyorai is vividly woven into the 48-row halo. The hanging scroll is 173 cm long and 69 cm wide.

At that time, it was believed that by weaving one's own hair, one could establish a precious connection with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and obtain the merit of attaining sokushin-jyubutsu (attainment of Buddhahood in one's body).

Ryusenji Temple, Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji School, Mt.

While preparations for the memorial service were being made the day before the service, we visited Ryusenji Temple for a special viewing of the hair on the lining of the hanging scroll.

Ryusenji Temple


Preparation for the Buddhist memorial service the day before

Sarcandra glabra (species of flowering shrub in the family Chloranthaceae)

Sarcandra glabra (species of flowering shrub in the family Chloranthaceae)
Conceived by Kyonobu Teragaki, first abbot of Ryusenji Temple, supporting member priest Yayoi, caretaker.

Hair on the lining of a hanging scroll

Woven hair (textile lining)

Nobuyoshi Teragaki, 4th generation abbot

We interviewed Nobuyoshi Teragaki, the fourth generation abbot, who took time out of his busy schedule to talk with us.

Ryusen-ji Temple, generations of chief priests
四世住職・寺垣信良 様
Mr. Nobuyoshi Teragaki, 4th abbot

The first abbot of Ryusenji Temple was born in Toyama Prefecture, moved to Hokkaido, and founded Ryusenji Temple in 1896. At that time, the predecessors who cleared trees and cultivated the land on the bush-strewn land must have gone through a great deal of hardship. The land was provided by Watanabe Farm in present-day Hekisui, where the Ryusenji preaching hall was first established.

The hanging scroll of the statue of Amida Nyorai, "Hair Weaving Buddha," was created for the purpose of expanding the number of parishioners and creating an opportunity for them to visit the temple. The hanging scroll is so rare that it hardly exists in Hokkaido. This year marks the 95th anniversary of the temple, but it is a precious textile that has hardly been damaged.

In 1928, through several sponsors, he collected women's black and gray hair and sent them to a Buddhist altar store in Kyoto to be specially ordered as hanging scrolls.

The finished scroll passed an examination at Higashi Honganji Temple, the head temple of the Jodo Shinshu sect. It was delivered to Ryusenji in March 1928. At that time, the completed hair weaving Buddha was displayed in the towns of those who donated their hair.

Since then, the "Hair Weaving Buddha Opening Ceremony" has been held every year on August 17, and parishioners have been invited to visit the temple while performing for the temple. In the old days, after the visit to the temple, theater troupes and actors would come to the town and perform plays, ryokyoku, and other entertainment on a stage temporarily set up on the temple grounds, to the delight of the many townspeople.

When I was a child, I used to look forward to picking up the many "Dara-Sen" that fell on the grounds of the temple the next morning.

This Buddhist memorial service has never rained except once, probably due to the blessings of the Buddha. It rained once during my last term as abbot, but that time it was held at the farmers' cooperative because it also served as a beer party sponsored by the youth club in commemoration of the "Hair Weaving Buddha Gokyakuho Ceremony Commemorative Beer Party. Other than that, I have heard that there have been no rainfalls in the past 95 years.

The donors of hair are scattered all over Hokkaido, and some come from far away to visit and worship on the day of this memorial service. Mr. Kinbei Kameyama of Fukagawa City has taken the lead in taking care of this event. His descendants are happy to visit us.

The parishioners come to the hair offering with the greatest joy of that great karmic connection, that their own hair is the image of Amida Nyorai Buddha. The Hair Weaving Buddhist Memorial Service is a precious service for the important connection between parishioners and the temple," said Nobuyoshi Teragaki, the fourth generation abbot, calmly in his polite words.

principal object of worship at a temple (usu. a buddha or bodhisattva)

2023 "Gokai Shokubutsu Gokai Shokubutsu Houmyo" (Ceremony for the Opening of the Hair Weaving Buddha)

The 2023 "Gokai Korobutsu Gokai Shikyo Memorial Service" begins at 2:00 p.m. on August 17 (Thu.).
The Buddhist service was attended by priests from three local temples, and sutra reading was solemnly performed. This was followed by the burning of incense by parishioners, and worship of the hair weaving Buddha.

2023 "Gokai Shokubutsu Gokai Shokubutsu Houmyo" (Ceremony for the Opening of the Hair Weaving Buddha)
Ceremony for the Opening of the Hair Weaving Buddha

Moderator: Mr. Yoshiaki Arima

Moderated by Mr. Yoshiaki Arima

chief priest in attendance

The priests from "Kotokuji", "Hokoji", and "Seiunji" temples in Hokuryu-cho attended the event.

chief priest in attendance
四世住職・寺垣信良 師
Visiting Resident, 4th generation Resident, Rev. Nobuyoshi Teragaki



Nobuaki Teragaki, Resident, reciting sutra

寺垣信晃 住職読経
Nobuaki Teragaki, Resident, reciting sutra

Burning incense at your seat

Burning incense at your seat

Greetings from Mr. Sakae Yoshida, general representative of the parishioners

檀家総代・吉田栄 様ご挨拶
Greetings from Mr. Sakae Yoshida, general representative of the parishioners

I would like to express my gratitude for your kind attention to the "Gokai Kakishibutsu Gokai Houmyo" in the year 2023. This year marks the 95th anniversary of the creation of the "Hair Weaving Buddha" in 1928.

I am a member of the board of directors. This memorial service has been held for 95 years, thanks to the support of all of you.

It is unprecedented for a typhoon No. 7 to come across Japan. This time, it has traveled through Shikoku, Kyoto, Nara, Tottori, and even through Toyama, and now seems to be approaching off the coast of Rumoi in the Sea of Japan, as if it came to visit the "Hair Weaving Buddha Memorial Service" at our mountain.

In the past, we used to hold a beer party in the precincts of the temple after this hair weaving Buddhist memorial service. I remember now how hard it was to worry about rain.

Later in the day, August 26 and 27, will be the "Houonkou" ceremony at the temple.

With the heat here exceeding 30 degrees Celsius, a food poisoning alert has been issued by the health department, and 28 degrees Celsius days are predicted to continue for about a week. We hope you will take good care of your health and come to visit us.

Thank you very much for your kind attention today," said Mr. Sakae Yoshida, general representative.


Nobuaki Teragaki Lecture by Resident

Shinran Shonin said

"No one is more virtuous than me if he has met the power of the true prayer.
The treasured sea of merit is the way, and the muddy waters of vexation are no obstacle.

Namu amidabutsu, namu amidabutsu, namu amidabutsu."

Namu amidabutsu, namu amidabutsu, namu amidabutsu

Nobuaki Teragaki, Resident of

寺垣信晃 住職講話
Nobuaki Teragaki Lecture by Resident

We are very honored that you took time out of your busy schedules in the heat of the summer to come from far and near to attend the opening ceremony of the "Hair Weaving Buddha," a treasure of our temple.

I am very happy and grateful that we were able to hold this year's Buddhist memorial service in such a grand manner with the help of all of you.

I think it is precious that Ryuusenji is able to hold this annual memorial service in this way, thanks to the thoughts and wishes of our ancestors and the various thoughts and wishes of those of you who live in the 21st century.

The "Hair Weaving Buddha" Gokaiji, a hidden Buddha that has continued for 95 years.

As you can see, this "Hair Weaving Buddha" is a "hidden Buddha". Master Teragaki Kyonobu, the founder and chief abbot of Ryusenji Temple, conceived the idea of this "Hair Weaving Buddha" in 1928. He received a woman's hair and a man's beard to make this hanging scroll, which was produced at a Buddhist altar store in Kyoto.

Since 1928, the annual Gokai-ji ceremony has been held once a year on August 17, and has been continued for 95 years without interruption as we receive the souls of those who were present at the time.

We feel the passage of time and are keenly aware that we have overcome the difficulties of those days to get to where we are today.

During the Meiji, Taisho, and Showa eras, he moved to Hokkaido and settled in Hokuryu, where he built a temple in an environment with no pavement, running water, gas, or electricity.

At the time, people were living without goods or money and struggling to support their families, but they wanted to do something to serve the temple. The abbot came up with the idea of weaving Buddhist textiles from people's hair.

Weaving the next most precious hair after life into the Buddha.

For women, hair is the most important thing next to life. Through the offering of hair, life is woven into the fabric of this "Hair Weaving Buddha" with the hope that Ryusenji will continue to flourish as a place of Buddhist memorial services.

It is very gratifying that your mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother have told the story from generation to generation, and that the visitation has continued throughout the years, gaining about 100 years.

The date given is meaningful.

I sometimes wished that the Buddhist memorial service could have been held in the heat of the summer, in a cooler time of the year, or after the rice harvest, but each time of year has its own work to do.

Days are not what they seem to be. I feel that the days that are given to us are given to us because they are meaningful in their own way. Through today's memorial service, I feel that we are able to continue this memorial service by continuing the thoughts of our ancestors, and at the same time, I am savoring it once again.

Hair is the most important thing next to life

What I would like to tell you through this hair weaving Buddha is what kind of place is the "Pure Land" of our ancestors, where the hair and beards of those who were related to us at that time were offered and woven into the fabric.

The word "Pure" in Jodo Shinshu means "pure," "free from conflict," and "free from anger and envy.

This world is an unholy place

Contrary to the Pure Land, this world is the defilement (edo). The word "defilement" has the meaning of the word "お体お厭い(Ito)" or "Please take good care of yourself" as opposed to "Please take good care of yourself".

Unholy means 'dirty', 'unlivable', or 'uncomfortable'. It includes the meaning of 'not as it should be.

The word "defilement" means, "This world is a place where things are not as they should be, so don't let your mind be troubled. It means, 'Keep yourself and follow the path of no mistake.

We say it is hot now, but perhaps in two weeks it will be cooler; when November and December arrive, the white stuff will be falling, and we will be conversing about how cold it is. It means that when it is hot, you should savor the heat, and when it is cold, you should savor the cold, and you should be willing to be physically active.

The Pure Land is a clean, conflict-free, anger-free world

The Pure Land is a world of purity, without falsehood, without strife, without hatred, and without mixture. As in the words of Prince Shotoku, "Harmony is the most precious thing in the world," the Pure Land is a world that is indescribable.

Eventually, you will all be welcomed by your ancestors through the Buddhist memorial service into this painless, conflict-free, and pure world.

You are going to a world where there is no suffering, no sadness, and everything is joyous. When I tell people that they must want to go soon, they shake their heads and say, "I don't want to go yet! I don't want to go yet! You are going even if you don't want to go. But they have already decided to go. If you are going to go anyway, wouldn't it be better to go as soon as possible? It doesn't mean that you have to go.

Nembutsu "Namu Amidabutsu" in the World of Vexation

It is not that we are troubled because we want to be troubled, but because we are troubled by various connections.

You are not alone in your life, which is woven by the joy of meeting and the sorrow of parting. Although you cannot see it with your eyes, "Namu Amidabutsu" (Amitabha without mistakes) is always and everywhere by your side. It is "Nam-Mu-Amida-Butsu" that asks you to please walk with me on the path to the Pure Land.

The "satisfaction" of wanting to do things for others

When we are satisfied, we have more to do. When we are unsatisfied, we have more things we want to do.

You are all professionals in life, so you can imagine what life can bring.

At all times, act in such a way that you want to do more for them than they want you to do for them.

No wonder it didn't work out.

Even when we know we shouldn't do something, we repeatedly do it, and that is life.

Human beings cannot understand each other while they are alive. Those who cannot be enlightened live together as family members, friends, colleagues, and so on, and live their daily lives.

Therefore, it is normal for things not to go well. The illusion of taking for granted that things are going well causes us to grumble, complain, and curse at each other. At times, gratitude can turn into bitching and complaining.

The secret of "not muddying the waters

There is a secret to unlocking this. It is "not to be muddy. The "Pure" in Pure Land means to be clear. When you have an honest and clear mind, you will have fewer worries.

Your mouth becomes muddled and you become a "complainer. When you complain, you should think, "I am muddled.

Unclouded, pure heart

Aware mind

It is not necessary to become pure water. By drawing the presence of clear water in our minds when our minds become muddy, we can become aware of it, and this will ease our complaining and anger.

Calm the mind by chanting the Nembutsu "Namu Amidabutsu" (Amitabha)

This was difficult to do, so the Buddha delivered a reminder. 'I am not joking! Namo abhidabutsu...' "You've got to be kidding me! Namo abhidabutsu... Why am I the only one? Namu Amidabutsu... Namu Amidabutsu...

The moment I complain, I make it a habit to recite the nembutsu, "Namu amidabutsu". This is a concrete example of Buddha protecting me.

In our daily life, we can say, "Thank you," "I owe it to you," or "I am sorry, I am sorry," but it is precisely when we cannot say so in the moment that we should recite the nembutsu "Namu Amidabutsu" in our hearts.

Then, "anger," "complaining," and "envy" will not disappear, but they will become less and less. When you calm down and listen carefully, your feelings will change to "I see that's what you meant" and "I'm sorry I didn't notice.

Memorial service means living day by day with a smile

Isn't it the true nature of human beings to want to live in a world where we can understand each other in this way, saying 'thanks to you?

Buddha and the ancestors would be happy to see their descendants saying 'Thank you' and living their daily lives with smiles on their faces. This is called "memorial service" in Buddhism.

The importance of finishing on time

Finally, I would like to share with you the words of my mentor. It is, 'Finish on time,' or rather, 'Finish a little early! Don't go over. Don't overdo it. Finish where you want to hear a little more. It is just right that you have a little more to say. It is "on time" and "rather, finish a little earlier!

A life of regret

Life is no different. It is not the end of life, but rather the "Nagori" (the last vestiges). It is not the end of life, but rather the "remnants" of life.

Each one of you is destined to visit the Pure Land and become a being of eternal life and eternal light.

I would like to continue to ask you to continue to observe the Nembutsu and to respect and help each other, even though it is not as we would like it to be. I would like to thank you very much for your participation in spite of the hot weather.

Namu amidabutsu, namu amidabutsu, namu amidabutsu."

Finished chanting the Nembutsu (Buddhist prayer)

Red rice and manjuu

The event ended with a chorus, worship and recitation of the Nembutsu together with everyone.
On the way home, souvenirs of sekihan (red rice) and manju (sweet buns) were handed out.

Red rice and manjuu

Ryuusenji Treasure: "Peacock and Phoenix" sliding door painting by calligrapher Seikie

The fusuma paintings on the left and right side of the inner section of the main hall are by Seikie Seikie, a calligrapher, and were displayed at Taishokan, which was run by Yuukichi Arima, the founder of the temple.

Peacock" sliding door painting on the left side of the inner sanctuary

Peacock" sliding door painting on the left side of the inner sanctuary

Phoenix" sliding door painting on the right side of the inner sanctuary

Phoenix" sliding door painting on the right side of the inner sanctuary

A well-prepared garden in the precincts of the temple. The handmade lantern in the center was donated by Mr. Toshiaki Fujii, a parishioner, who painstakingly created it.

inner garden (esp. within the grounds of a temple)

We pray with infinite love and gratitude to the great secret Buddhist ceremony of "Hair Weaving Buddha," in which the soul becomes one with Amida Nyorai Buddha through hair and a precious connection is formed, accumulating various merits and virtues.

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