Services are generally held every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., consisting of incense offering, chanting, gatha singing, and a Dharma talk. In addition, children and teens of all ages are invited to attend our Dharma school classes, in which younger children participate in arts and crafts, skits, and other fun activities. Older students participate in discussion groups.
Once a month, there is a monthly memorial service, called “Shotsuki,” which is a service in memory of all those who passed away in that month, regardless of year. This service is combined with the regular family service and Dharma school. It is usually held on the second Sunday of the month.
We also hold special services throughout the year to observe the New Year, the Buddha’s birthday, the Spring and Fall equinox, Obon dance and service, Shinran’s memorial, and the day the Buddha was enlightened (Nirvana Day).
Holidays and Major Services
New Year’s Day Service (Shusho-E) — January 1
New Year’s Day is an important observance, not only under Japanese customs, but for Buddhists as well. It is a time to start the year with a fresh mind, to greet old friends, mark the passing of time, and listen to the Dharma with a renewed sense of commitment.
Eitaikyo (Perpetual Memorial Service) — February
This service is a general memorial service for the departed members and friends of the temple. In particular, we honor those whose names have been placed in the Eitaikyo Register, and thus, we hold a service in memory of those people “in perpetuity.”
Nirvana Day (Shakyamuni Buddha’s Memorial Day) — February 15
The day Shakyamuni Buddha passed away is observed on this day. The teaching of the Dharma sprung from Shakyamuni, who lived 80 years before passing into Nirvana.
Spring Higan (Spring Equinox) — March
The equinox is a time when day and night are the same length, thus symbolizing the delicate balance of the universe, before we cross over to the next season. Thus, Higan also means crossing over to the “Other Shore of enlightenment.” Higan is a universal Buddhist observance and an important time to listen to the Buddha’s teachings.
Hanamatsuri (Shakyamuni Buddha’s birthday) — April 8
“Hana” means “flower” and “matsuri” means “festival.” Thus, we decorate the altar with lots of flowers, which represents Lumbini Garden, where Shakyamuni Buddha was born 2,500 years ago in northern India. It is said sweet rain fell from the sky that day, so we observe this service with a sweet tea ceremony, in which we pour sweet tea over a statue of the baby Buddha.
Shinran Shonin’s Birthday (Tanjo-E) — May 21
Born near Kyoto, Japan, in 1173, Shinran experienced many hardships before realizing the essence of Buddhism, which he shared with many people. Thus, we consider Shinran our teacher and the founder of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism. Traditionally at this service, we reflect on the meaning of our birth and life through Shinran’s experiences and words.
Obon and Obon Odori — July
Obon is a time when we remember all of our loved ones who have passed away. It is said that Shakyamuni Buddha instructed a disciple to hold a service for his mother to deal with his unresolved feelings, thus beginning the tradition of memorial services. Afterwards, the disciple felt such peace that he danced. Thus, the night before the service, we remember those loved ones by doing Japanese dance. Families who have lost loved ones during the past year observe their first Obon service for them, called “hatsu-bon.”
Fall Higan — September (First day of Autumn)
We once again observe the equinox, this time when summer turns to fall, using this time to reflect on our lives and live by listening to the Buddha’s teachings.
Kaikyo-ki — October
This gathering is a memorial for the ministers who have served at our temple.
Ho-onko — November 28
Hoon-ko is the most important service throughout the year for all of us who follow the Nembutsu path. “Ho” means “to return” or “to express.” “On” means “virtue” and “Ko” means “gathering.” Hoon-ko is a gathering to express our appreciation to Shinran Shonin for showing us the teaching of the Nembutsu. It is an occasion and memorial service to reflect on our defiled life and awaken to eternal compassion and perfect wisdom.
Bodhi Day (Shakyamuni Buddha’s Enlightenment day) — December 8
This service is in commemoration of the enlightenment of Shakyamuni Buddha. It is an occasion to reflect on the meaning of what it means to be awakened.
Year-End Service (Joya-E) — December 31
On New Year’s Eve, we gather to express our gratitude to Amida Buddha and our Dharma friends for the kindness we have received throughout the year.
(Note: The actual observances of the above events are usually held on the closest Sunday.)
Please check the calendar for exact dates of special services and to confirm weekly family services and Dharma school.