On Friday November 6th, students taking JCMU’s in-house culture course Researching Japanese Culture and Society visited ‘Kosen-ji’ temple in Hinatsu village, Hikone. This Jodo-Shinshu sect temple—typical of those found all across Japan— administers to the spiritual needs of the local community. The Hiratsuka family has resided in the temple since the late Meiji period and the current priest Mrs. Fumiko Hiratsuka warmly welcomed the visitors.
Mrs. Hiratsuka then conducted a tour of the temple and explained the history and doctrine of Jodo-Shinshu Buddhism. The students asked many interesting questions about the spiritual significance of temple decorations as well as the role of a village priest in modern Japan.
Following the tour, the students participated in a simple ceremony and even practiced their calligraphy skills by copying sutras! In keeping with daily temple rituals, the large temple bell is rung ten times at 5 p.m. and as the evening air turned cold the students got their chance to earn themselves a sweet bean cake and a warming bowl of green tea.
The trip was a great success and was enjoyed by all. We extend our thanks to Mrs. Hiratsuka for generously offering our students a rare chance to visit a working temple and gain a more intimate experience of religious culture in practice. Thanks also to our intrepid student coordinator Harada-san for providing transport and translation!