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Goma daki Experience Plan – An Esoteric Buddhist ritual involving consecrated fire
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Come and experience “Goma daki” where priests pray for visitors to the shrine over burning flames. On the Kunisaki Peninsula in Oita Prefecture, the Rokugo Manzan culture, a unique mountain belief system, has lasted more than 1,300 years and is still passed on today. As part of the Rugby World Cup special experience plan, you can visit Monjusenji Temple, a well-known temple that conducts this ritual, to see Goma daki for yourself, something which is not usually permitted. You can also enjoy walking through the precincts where there are mossy statues of Nio and you actually feel the sacred air surrounding you.
The statues of Nio as the guardian deities of the temple. The Monjusenji Temple statues of Nio were constructed in 1375 and are one of the most historically valuable structures in Oita Prefecture. They are said to have the most powerful and beautiful physique of all the statues of the Kunisaki Peninsula. From the statues of Nio begin 300 stone steps that lead to Okunoin, the inner sanctuary.
It is said that Monjusenji was founded more than 1,300 years ago. First, begin by offering prayers to the monk who founded the temple and ring the “waniguchi” (“crocodile-mouth” or an iron gong) that hangs in front of the Gomado (the hall where the Goma ritual takes place). Then put your hands together or pray to the Buddha inside the hall. Those who have no further special prayers to make finish here.
When praying, that is participating in the Goma daki ceremony, you can choose either a special gomagi (stick) or goma candle on which to write your name, wish and address. The gold lettering at the top of the gomagi are characters originating from India called “Sanskrit.” The word written is Manjushri.
After putting up the barrier around the fire area, the monk chants as he proceeds through the stages of the ritual. The goma (fire) is considered to be the mouth of Buddha and this ceremony is the offering of food and water to him. After Buddha has eaten his fill and has been revitalized, the gomagi are thrown into the fire and you can pray for your wish.
The Goma prayers are an Esoteric Buddhist teaching originating from India. Usually, it is not permitted to view this ritual while sitting next to the monk as he prays, rather everyone must watch from outside and face his back. This time, seats have been set up at Monjusenji Temple to the left of the fire, making it possible to observe the monk’s prayers and fully experience the ritual. You are not allowed to cross the barrier placed around the inner area of the fire by the monks. It is a truly profound experience to watch the flames get bigger and hear the taiko drums as the monk recites his chants.
Goma daki is a ritual even Japanese people can rarely experience or see. Why not come and explore authentic Japanese culture as you enjoy the precincts of the temple where the old Japanese landscape has been preserved.
This experience plan will be available in spring 2019. Please look forward to it!
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