Chishaku-In Kyoto


Temple Chishaku-In 智積院

***** Location: Kyoto
***** Season: See below
***** Category: Observance


Chishakuin rongi 智積院論義 (ちしゃくいんろんぎ)
public ceremonial debate at temple Chishaku-In

kigo for early winter

from December 10 to 13, sometimes only for 2 days

rongi is difficult to translate into English. They were ritual formal ceremonial Buddhist public debates (disputes, disputations, discussions), where the monks had to show their understanding of the Buddhist sutra scriptures.
Now also called
fuyu hoo-on koo 冬報恩講 debates in winter
"honorable preaching ceremony" in winter

During the two or three days, torches are put up from the entrance to the main hall. Many priests come from all the affiliated temples in Japan to take part in the rituals.


Chishaku-in is the head temple of Shingon Buddhism Chizan Sect.
It is the first temple on the Kyoto Jusan Butsu pilgrimage.

painted by Hasegawa Kyuzo

This temple is less popular among tourists but it has excellent Shoheki-ga (fusuma-e) paintings on the sliding paper doors that are National Treasures, as well as a very good garden.

Chishaku-in was founded in the 14th century as a sub-temple of Daidenpo-in that was established in Koyasan, Wakayama Prefecture by Priest Kakuban (1095-1144), in the year 1130. The mother temple then moved to Negorosan in Wakayama prefecture ten years later.

In the year 1585, Daidenpo-in, including its sub-temples, was totally destroyed by the actual ruler of the country, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598). Chief Priest of Chishaku-in, Genyu (Gen'yu, 1529-1605), who fled from the assault, had to wait until the Toyotomi family was destroyed and the Tokugawa family came to power. In the year 1601, the first Tokugawa Shogun, Ieyasu (1543-1616) gave a place to Genyu to revive Chishaku-in. Then, in the year 1615, Ieyasu gave them neighboring Shounzen-ji temple that had been founded by Hideyoshi in memory of his son Sutemaru who died in 1591 at the age of three.

The extant Shoheki-ga (or Fusuma-e) paintings (national treasures) were those displayed in Kyakuden building of Shounzen-ji. Chishaku-in suffered from several fires during its history and about half of the paintings were lost.
source : kyoto.asanoxn.com


Vegetarian meal served at the temple lodgings.

. Vegetarian Temple Food
(shoojin ryoori 精進料理) .


Yearly festivals and ceremonies

Every month on the 21 is a meeting to copy the sutras
shakyoo no tsudoi 写経のつどい

1月 - January
1日 修正会
15日 新年祝祷会・お昆布式
21日 写経のつどい

2月 - February
3日 節分会 Setsubun
15日 常楽会
21日 写経のつどい

3月 - March
6日~12日 伝法大会/伝法灌頂(非公開)
春分の日 春季彼岸会法要
21日 正御影供
21日 写経奉納法要・写経のつどい
30日 得度式(非公開)

4月 - April
8日 仏生会(はなまつり)
21日 写経のつどい

5月 - May
21日 写経のつどい

6月 - June
15日 青葉まつり
21日 写経のつどい

7月 - July
21日 写経のつどい
31日 得度式(非公開)

8月 - August
12日 総本山施餓鬼会
21日 写経のつどい
24日 地蔵盆会 Jizo Bon
30日 永代・納骨・日月牌総供養法要

9月 - September
10日 運敞僧正忌
21日 写経のつどい
秋分の日 秋季彼岸会法要

10月 - October
3日 戦没者慰霊法要
4日 玄宥僧正忌
21日 写経のつどい

11月 - November
21日 写経のつどい

12月 - December
8日 成道会
11日・12日 冬報恩講
21日 写経のつどい
31日 除夜の鐘

Homepage of the temple

source : www.chisan.or.jp

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


Chishaku-in rongi sumitaru kake-udon

after the debate
at Chishaku-in
a bowl of udon noodles

Kawasumi Sugekatsu 川澄祐勝, priest of the Shingon sect

We can imagine the monks after the debate, sitting around the long tables and slurping their hot soup in silence.
Slurping noodle soup is customary in Japan, and considered good manners.

. Kake udon noodle soup .

... the public rongi custom arose during the medieval period, when there were a lot of sects and doctrinal disputes arising within Shingon Buddhism and that the debates were aimed at overcoming misunderstandings of the "true" Shingon Buddhism of the founder, Kukai.
... in the medieval period a number of unorthodox monks were expelled from Mt. Koya, the Shingon headquarters, for doctrinal reasons. Probably there were all sorts of disputes, including material ones as well! I believe several monks were declared heretics, and one whole new sect of Shingon, the so-called Tachikawa Sect of left-handed Tantric Buddhists, was vigorously disputed and opposed, and its texts and mandalas were destroyed.

The secular warrior authorities also actively suppressed the "heretical" Tachikawa Sect. Like Tendai, Shingon is an older sect in Japan, so for a while it was a crucible of dissent and dissenting sects, so the 'rongi' at Chishakuin may reflect some of this very vigorous verbal disputation during the period when new sects were challenging orthodoxy and branching off.

'Rongi' also includes debates/doctrinal disputes between sects outside Shingon. The Lotus (Nichiren) sect and the Pure Land sect were noted for their strenuous debates and verbal disputes, which sometimes turned into fights. You can see a pale reflection of how vigorous 'rongi' were in the medieval period if you read the No play 'Sotoba Komachi' ('Komachi on the Stupa'), in which Komachi verbally defeats her Shingon monk challengers.

During the Edo period fighting (with either weapons or fists) between sects was no longer acceptable, so 'rongi' must have become more subdued, but it would be interesting to know just how disputational the present-day debates at Chishakuin are.
source : Chris Drake

Related words

***** . hooonkoo, hoo-on koo 報恩講
Ho-onko, service for Shinran .

. Amulets and Talismans from Japan . 

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