The Grand Ceremony of the Airing of the Sacred Treasures
(Goreiho Mushibarai Daiho-e)
The Airing of the Sacred Treasures is conducted once a year to air the precious treasures of Nichiren Shoshu, such as Gohonzons and Goshos from the Daishonin's era 700 years ago, in order to preserve them for the future. Airing these treasures helps to disperse any humidity and prevent damage that could be created by insects. This ceremony is conducted on the sixth and seventh of April every year at Head Temple Taisekiji. Many believers attend this ceremony. The Airing of the Sacred Treasures Ceremony is one of the most important Nichiren Shoshu ceremonies, along with the Shuso Gotaie (Oeshiki) Ceremony, which is conducted in November.

There are no official records revealing the origin of this ceremony; however, we believe that it began during the time of Second High Priest, Nikko Shonin. The oldest record shows that the ceremony was conducted by the Fourteenth High Priest, Nisshu Shonin, on August 19, 1573 (the first year of Tensho). After the Edo period, the ceremony was conducted once every two or three years in June, and more recently, it has been conducted every year in April.

The Events of the Airing of the Sacred Treasures Ceremony
On the first day, April 6, the Gokaihi Ceremony in the Hoando is conducted. This ceremony is different from the regularly scheduled Gokaihi Ceremonies. After the sutra has been recited, while Daimoku is chanted, the High Priest ascends the altar and conducts the ritual of cleaning the Dai-Gohonzon.

Shortly before 6:00 PM in the evening, the High Priest conducts a procession, followed by many priests, who proceed down the path, illuminated by bonfires, to the Mieido (Image Hall). The High Priest enters the Mieido, and after ascending the high lectern, recites the sutra and chants Daimoku. Then, he gives a special sermon. Afterwards, a priest delivers a propagation lecture. This concludes the events of the first day.

On the second day, April 7, Ushitora Gongyo is conducted at 2:30 AM. The believers participate in this important Gongyo, where the High Priest prays for kosen-rufu. Then, at 7:00 AM, the High Priest approaches the Mieido, followed by many priests again. In the Mieido, the Oko Ceremony in praise of Second High Priest Nikko Shonin is conducted. Finally at 9:00 AM, the Airing of the Sacred Treasures Ceremony is conducted in the Reception Hall (Kyakuden). Before the ceremony begins, the sacred treasures, such as Gohonzons and Goshos stored in the Treasure Storehouse (Gohozo), are carried into the Reception Hall.

The Daishonin's goshokotsu(the tooth of the Daishonin) and his three implements to pray for rain are taken from an oblong chest and are placed on the offering table in front of the Gohonzon. The High Priest then calls the names of various Gohonzons of different eras, including the Shishidenju-noGohonzon, inscribed by Nichiren Daishonin. These Gohonzons are carefully unrolled and shown. Lastly, the very large Ozagawari Gohonzon (the Gohonzon of the Seat of the Law) is shown in the middle of the front section of the hall. The High Priest then leads the recitation of the sutra and the chanting of Daimoku.

Approximately 60 Gohonzons are shown during the ceremony, covering the era of Nichiren Daishonin's time to the Ninth High Priest Nichiu Shonin. There are many more Gohonzons protected at Taisekiji, which are aired on other occasions.

After the Gohonzon Airing Ceremony, the ceremony to air the Daishonin's Goshos (letters to the believers) and the books and letters of Nikko Shonin and Nichimoku Shonin is conducted. The High Priest leads the recitation of the sutra and the chanting of Daimoku. He then calls the titles of the various writings to be unrolled and displayed. He begins with the "Document for Entrusting the Law that Nichiren Propagated throughout his Life" ("Nichiren ichigo guho fuzoku-sho"), the "Minobu-san Transfer Document" ("Minobusan fuzoku-sho"), and the "Articles to be Observed after the Passing of Nikko" ("Nikko ato jojo no koto"). Then, the Goshos "On Celebrating Spring," "Reply to an Offering of Polished Rice," "On Remonstrating with Hachiman," and other Goshos are shown to those in attendance.

In 1967, the 26 volumes of the Daishonin's original writings were officially designated as important cultural properties of Japan. Therefore, they are extremely valuable. Through experiencing this precious ceremony to observe the writings of the Daishonin and the successive High Priests, including a transcription of the Rissho-ankoku-ron by Second High Priest Nikko Shonin, we truly can feel the 750- year history of Nichiren Shoshu. These Goshos and writings are shown to the believers by the priests, and after they are shown, they are rolled with great care and returned to the oblong chest. This concludes the Airing of the Sacred Treasures Ceremony.

The Spirit of Protecting the Law
After the Daishonin's passing there were five senior disciples other than Nikko Shonin who did not understand the precious value of the Daishonin's Goshos. It is almost impossible to believe, but they destroyed some of these Goshos that were written in simple language to the Daishonin's less-educated followers. This shows that they could not revere the Daishonin as the True Buddha. Only Nikko Shonin, who was the legitimate successor of the Daishonin, understood that the Goshos are the words of the Buddha. Therefore, we must preserve and pass them down to the future.

Nikko Shonin collected the Daishonin's writings, which had been sent to disciples and believers in various regions of Japan, and transcribed copies of them, in order to prevent the disappearance of the Daishonin's precious teachings. We should never forget that each of the successive High Priests has protected these precious treasures.

We should remember, too, that the continued prosperity of true Buddhism also is due to the protection by the believers in each era. It is really important for us to have the determination that we are the ones who will pass the long history of Nichiren Shoshu down to the next generation. Let's work together to protect the true Law.
  Back To List  
Home    About    Ceremonies    FAQs    Activities    Basics of Practice    Publications    Tozan    Contact Us