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kyonoki - 京のキー Hall of the second moon

kyonoki

京のキー Hall of the second moon

Hall of the second moon

The Nigatsu-do (The Hall of the Second Month) is located to the east of the Great Buddha Hall, on the hillside of Mount Wakakusa and overlooks Todai-ji. It is perhaps most famous now for the spectacular water-drawing festival, when monks -somewhat paradoxically- run around the veranda with lit torches.



The hall was founded by the Buddhist monk Jicchu, a pupil of Roben, as a place to hold a repentation service dedicated to the image of the eleven-faced Bodhisattva, Kannon. The service has come to be known as Shuni-e (Second-Month Service), as it was held in the second month of the traditional lunisolar calendar. Omizutori, which means taking sacred water, has become the popular name of the ceremony. It has taken place as an annual rite for 1,248 years without any break. Shuni-e literally means 'ceremony of February' in accordance with its performance in February in the lunar calendar. At present, it starts on March 1 and ends on the 15th of the month.

While the first Shuni-e service is said to have been held by Jichu in another temple in 752, the original construction of Nigatsu-do hall is estimated to have been completed somewhere between 756 and 772. The hall acquired its name of 'Nigatsu-do', following the service held there annually, without a single year missing since 752.

Although the hall was saved from civil wars in 1180 and 1567 in which the Great Buddha Hall was lost, it was burnt down during the Shuni-e service of 1667. The hall was rebuilt two years later.

The current main hall of Nigatsu-do is a designated National Treasure. The hall holds two Kannons, a large one and a small one, although both of them are classified as Hibutsu or literally 'absolutely secret Buddhas', therefore not publicly shown.

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Rhod and Ki's tour of life in Kyoto, Japan.

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