October 7th Saturday
Bishop Kanai (NONA Bishop) would join our group early early that morning. He got to the Bo just after midnight along with another member from LA. We would also be joined by a member from Tokyo.
Map of Minobu (not to scale)
We would go up for morning service at Kuon Ji that morning at 5:30 a.m. (below) Heading up to Kuon Ji from the Bo for morning service.
After service (below) we would return to the Bo for breakfast then back up the mountain to the very top this time.
Dining hall of our Bo.
A new Stupa is being built at the top of the Bodaitei (steps of enlightenment). The poster depicting the construction and the construction site are pictured below.
Nichiren Shonin climbed Mt. Minobu and faced his home of Kominato. There he would chant for his parents and home. A Temple sits upon the peak called Shishinkaku. Many pilgrims walk to the top which usually takes 3.5 to 5 hours depending on your speed. (below) The sign showing the route up the mountain. Several Shrines sit along the trail giving pilgrims time for breaks during the steep and arduous walk. A rope way runs from the top to bottom. We would use the rope way for our decent. The rope way has its own web page which can be seen here with many wonderful pictures and explanations in English.
After our decent on the rope way we would get some rest and wonder some around Minobu freely. Several wondered down to Minobu village for shopping.
The Wakamatusya store owners (above) have always been very kind and as we told them we were going to Ikegami Honmon-Ji for Oeshiki, they arranged for us to join the drumming practice in Minobu that evening. Ikegami has a very large celebration but of course Minobu also has a celebration which includes the parade with mando and matoi.
O-Eshiki is a Buddhist festival commemorating Nichiren Shonin, who passed away at Ikegami on October 13,1282. It is celebrated from 11th to 13th. Especially the festival reaches its height on the eve of October 13,or the night of 12th from 19:00 to 24:00, with parades of mando and of matoi (fireman's standards of the Edo period) accompanied by flutes and drums. The festival attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators. Mando, which literally means “10,000 lanterns,” is something like a huge umbrella about 5 meters in height. In its original from it resembled a candle stand but has since become an elaborate structure built in the from of a five-story pagoda with the Daimoku (Namu-Myohorenge-Kyo) or pictures of Nichiren's life depicted on the side. Rows of artificial cherry blossoms are hung from the top, and the pagoda pole is lighted inside.
We are behind the children learning the different drumbeats used during the parade. (below) One of our group learning how the toss and twirl the Matoi. We had fun and learned the beats that we would be using on the night of October 12th.
That night every one was tired but still excited about what we had done up to this time and what we would be doing in the next few days.