Kyoto Shimbun 2013.12.20 News

Refreshed for New Year
Hall Cleaning at Higashi Honganji and Nishi Hongwanji Temples

The annual year-end hall cleaning "Susuharai" took place at Nishi Hongwanji Temple and Higashi Honganji Temple, both in Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, on December 20. Monks and followers of each temple from all over the country gathered to use bamboo sticks and big fans to blow away the dust that accumulated in the halls over the past year.

This traditional event has been performed for more than 500 years, starting from the times of Rennyo, the restorer of this sect.

The cleaning started at 7:00 a.m. in the Amida Hall of Nishi Hongwanji Temple, after Koshin Otani, the temple's head priest, made a gesture of dusting off the cabinet on the altar with a roughly four-meter-long broom. As approximately 600 participants wearing coverall aprons and masks beat tatami mats with springy bamboo sticks, a cloud of dust was stirred up in the hall, and then, blown away with big fans.

The cleaning at Higashi Honganji Temple began at 9:00 a.m., with about 100 participants working up a sweat together as they carefully wiped tatami mats and corridors with rags. The event was concluded when Choken Otani, the head priest, used a long broom to write the Chinese character "Kotobuki," meaning "blessing" or "long life," on a large white cloth covering the wooden statue of Shinran, the sect founder.

(translated by Galileo, Inc.)

Photo= The temple congregation dusting with bamboo sticks (December 20, Nishi Hongwanji Temple, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto)