For the sixth year in a row, NWLACC and friends will welcome in the New Year with the help of Whidbey Island’s Tahoma One Drop Zen Monastery. This year, we are greatly honored to have our ceremony led by Shodo Harada Roshi, Tahoma’s founder, and the abbott of the three-hundred-year old Sogenji temple in Okayama, Japan. Members of the public from all faiths and traditions are invited to join us in a nondenominational celebration of our common humanity and the setting of intentions for the New Year, including ringing the 108 bells, while learning about some of the ancient New Year’s traditions of Japan.
Following the ceremony, light refreshments will be served. The event is open and free of charge; no reservations are required.
Patrick Johnson, a student and teacher of the shakuhachi, the vertical bamboo flute of Japan will also play during the ceremony. He is also an ordained Zen priest in the Rinzai tradition of Japanese Zen, and at his day job, he works as a clinical psychologist in Seattle, Washington. Visit his website: http://www.kskna.com/teachers/patrick-johnson
JAPANESE NEW YEAR TRADITIONS
The New Year is Japan’s most important holiday by far. Before the Meiji restoration, it was based on the Chinese lunar calendar, and celebrated on the same date as the Chinese, Vietnamese, and Korean New Years—which, this year, celebrate the year 4714 beginning February 28th. But, since Japan adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1873, New Year’s eve has been celebrated on December 31st through the first several days of the year. The celebration’s roots though stretch back centuries, to a time when Japan was a country of farmers and the end of the year was seen as a time of thanksgiving. It was a time to finish old tasks, and prepare to start again.
The Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples of Japan are a gathering place on New Year’s Eve for Japanese, religious and secular alike. The temple bells are rung 108 times at midnight, as the New Year arrives, a practice called “joya no kane.” It is said that the ringing of the bells is a way of guarding against the 108 human desires. Even Japanese who do not usually go to temples and shrines will make the trip on New Year’s Day. At Meiji Shrine in Tokyo and Fushimi Inari Taisha in Kyoto, hundreds of thousands of people visit over the first few days of the year.
ABOUT SHODO HARADA ROSHI
Harada Seicho was born in Nara, Japan and established Tahoma Sogenji Zen Monastery on Whidbey Island. A few years later he began traveling and offering sesshins in Europe, eventually establishing Hokuozan Sogenji Monastery in Asendorf, Germany. Each year he goes to central India as well, to lead sesshin at the Indozan Monastery established by his Indian student Bodhidharma. Groups of his students have sprung up all over the world. Truly living the title Zen Master, he does all of this in addition to keeping an extremely full schedule of teaching and sesshin in Sogenji Monastery in Okayama, Japan. He is utterly dedicated to keeping the Buddha Dharma alive at its most profound level.
Harada Roshi will be giving public talks, called Taishos daily from 1:00 – 2:00 PM during the Osseshin Tahoma, February 9-22, 2017