Tag Archives: Saikoji temple

Jazz Concert at a Buddhist Temple

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saikoji1     A Jazz concert at a TEMPLE?

     I was very surprised to hear from the deputy head priest of Saikoji Temple in Toyohashi that he was organizing a Jazz concert at the temple, but decided right away to join it because it is rare to have opportunities to listen to Jazz music at temples in Japan. saikoji2

   Incidentally, Saikoji Temple is famous in Mikawa area for an event called Tori-no-ichi. Tori-no-ichi’s literal meaning is the Rooster Fair and a market selling lucky charms for business, especially decorative rakes called Kumade. Actually, the day before the concert was Tori-no-ichi. So, a big Kumade rake was displayed at the temple.

     The concert was held on November 23rd. I was very surprised again when I entered the temple because the room was packed with little children. saikoji3

     This is the right place, isn’t it?

     A Jazz concert was certainly held at the temple. It started solemnly with the priest’s greeting to the audience under gorgeous golden decorations. It was a concert indeed, but it was different from others I have experienced. saikoji6

     First of all, there were no seats in the room. The audience could sit down on the floor anywhere they liked. Actually, they did not need to sit down. If they wanted to stand up, they could. Secondly, they were able to do anything they liked, for example, dancing, running around, and even making sounds! So many of the children were holding something to make a sound, such as maracas made from milk cartons, percussion instruments made from empty boxes, or rolled-up newspaper. Actually, I did not know until that day that the purpose of the concert was to cultivate children’s artistic expression.saikoji5

      The musicians were Minoru Yoshiki, the bassist, Noriyuki “Knocky” Nakahashi, the pianist, and Syuji Mori, the tenor saxophonist. Once the music began, the children got excited and started to express their feelings freely. Some clapped their hands, some ran around, some hit the floor with rolled-up newspaper, and some played their handmade instruments. I think this freedom of expression was because children are not bound or fixed by rules. But meanwhile, adults like me are limited by many restrictions. I would need gallons of alcohol if I needed to let my real self out…saikoji4

     Interestingly, the bassist and the saxophonist moved around in the room while playing, though, keyboardist could not move around. The concert had no separation between the stage and the audience, but had a free atmosphere. I had a great time at the temple!

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Tori-no-ichi Festival at Saiko-ji Temple in Toyohashi: A special bamboo rake might bring happiness to you!

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     Have you ever heard of “Tori-no-ichi”? It literally means “birds’ market”, but birds are not sold in “Tori-no-ichi”, but special rakes are sold… toyohashi 2

     “Tori-no-ichi” is a kind of open-air market held in November on the day of “Tori” in Chinese calendar. It was originally a harvest festival for peasants, but since around the Edo period it has become a place to pray for a health, fortune and good business, and highly decollated bamboo rakes have also become the essential item. Many people believe the rake brings them happiness and prosperity in business. Believers bring their old rakes back to the shrine or the temple where they bought last year and buy new ones for the coming new year. toyohashi 3toyohashi 4

     I had an opportunity to join the festival on November 20. It was held at Saiko-ji Temple in Toyohashi located in the southeast of Nagoya. One of my Tai Chi friends lives in Toyohashi and he invited me to the fair. He also showed me around the temple by the tram.

     First, we went to Toyohashi Park, which is a ruin of a castle called Yoshida-jo. Now there a restored storehouse stands quietly beside a 300-year-old big isunoki tree, or distylium racemosum.

toyohashi 5     Second, we visited a Japanese Orthodox church. This building is one of the three important cultural properties of the Orthodox Church in Japan and called “Holy Apostle and Evangelist Matthew Church”. Unfortunately we could not enter the 100-year-old church with a dignified air at that time… toyohashi 1

     Third, the place we headed for after the church was a Japan’s shrine named Akumi-Kambe-Shinmei-sha. The shrine is famous for a festival called Oni-Matsuri in February. The festival is to pray for the productiveness of grains and its main act is a fighting between an “oni” goblin and a “tengu” god. The festival has an about 1000-year-old history. toyohashi 6

     Finally, we arrived at Saiko-ji Temple where “Tori-no-ichi” was being held. There were many stalls before the temple and it was setting the mood for the festival. Near the gate there was a stand selling special bamboo rakes, and many people were buying ones from venders in happi coats. When you buy a rake, the venders clapped with the beat and cheered to you. toyohashi 7

     It is not enough to buy a rake at the festival. You have to bring the rake inside the temple and make it have power from Buddhist priests there. Otherwise, the rake is just an ornament without supernatural power.toyohashi 8

      If you’d like to live in prosperity, why don’t you buy one next year? Anyway, the small trip to Toyohashi was very interesting and filled with new discoveries for me. toyohashi 10