Japan from the inside out

What I did during summer vacation

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, August 4, 2012

SUMMER vacation for kids in Japan can be the same lazy season it is anywhere else — they hang out with their friends, or hang out at home and watch television while putting off their homework. Some kids — or their parents — find other things to do. Some kids go to private schools for extra study.

And some become Buddhist priests.

The photo above shows the ordination ceremony on the third for new Buddhist priests at the Higashihongan-ji Buddhist temple in Kyoto. That’s the headquarters temple for the Shinshu Otani sect, which has 8,900 affiliated institutions nationwide.

The sect allows children as young as nine years old to become priests, because that’s the age at which the sect’s founder Shinran (1173-1263) entered the priesthood.

Participating in the ceremony were 152 children on their summer vacation, most of them primary school students. Of that total, 68 were nine years old.

During the special ceremony, they had their hair cut, received a surplice, and were given a Buddhist name for use as priests.

And their parents might have taken some of them for ice cream and cake to celebrate when the ceremony was over!

There’s no video of the ceremony, but here’s one of the temple itself.

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