Todaji Temple in Nara Misterious essence of the Shuni-e ceremomy. ( Omizu-tori)
The magnificent scene of the Shuni-e torches being waved on the veranda of the Night Hall around 7PM from March 1 through 14 is deeply moving to all who view it. Those who have sparks fall on them are said to assure of a year free of illness and misfortune. After the worshipers leave, the monks recite the Shuni-e prayers through the night until the break of dawn.
The Shinu-e is also known as the Omizutori, or water-drawing, and this name implies, water is drawn from the Nigatsu-Hall’s well and offered to Kannon-san in the middle of the night on March 12th.The traditional belief in Japan is that the cold water of winter is full of vital energy and will not go stale, and this must have led to its use in the ritual of penitence, where we wash away our defilement.
Amazingly, the Shuni-e has been performed every year without interruption since 752, when the Great Buddha was installed in Todaiji. The 2009 ceremony will be the 1,258th in this unbroken series. Shuni-e, which offers prayers for the nation’s tranquility and happiness for its people, has a profoundness that has enabled it to endure for more than 1,250 years.
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Address: 406-1 Zoji-chi, Nara-shi, Nara
Hours: Opens 7:30 (8:00 from November through March), closes 17:30 (16:30 from November through February, 17:00 in March and October)