Feb. 04, 2020 UPDATE
Hari Kuyō- 針供養 -
Many of the visitors are local people. However, anyone can participate in the ceremony, also it is easy to get there from Arashiyama Station. Why not pay a visit?
The official site is available in English and traditional and simplified Chinese.
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PeriodFebruary 8th, December 8th, every year
Story & Recommendation
A memorial ceremony for broken needles with a history of more than 1,000 years
Hari Kuyō is a memorial ceremony held for bent or broken needles that can no longer be used and has been carried on in Japan since ancient times. The ceremony also signifies prayers to improve their skill at needlework. Hari Kuyō is performed in many areas around Japan. In Kyoto, the memorial service is held at Horin-ji Temple on December 8th and February 8th, and the broken needles are stuck into a soft material like konnyaku jelly. In this ceremony at Horin-ji Temple, sacred service and dance dedication are also taken place. This traditional event has continued since the Heian period (about 1,000 years ago). As the number of people who do needlework at home has gradually declined in modern times, this kind of ceremony is now only performed at temples and shrines, but in the past, Hari Kuyō was once performed in homes as well. Hari Kuyō treats something even so small as a needle with a sense of gratitude. These classic events symbolize Japanese culture that people treasure things.
Sticking needles into konnyaku jelly
In Horin-ji Temple, a memorial is held for the needles used by the imperial family. The needles are prepared by Horin-ji Temple, and its length is about 25 cm. Sticking these needles into the soft konnyaku jelly expresses gratitude and appreciation to needles for all their hard work. The beautifully colored konnyaku jelly with many needles is quite a rare sight.
In the main hall of Horin-ji Temple, the sermon for Hari Kuyō begins at 1:00 PM. A sutra is recited, and the sermon proceeds with solemn air. Hari Kuyō follows after the sermon, and participants stick the needles into the konnyaku jelly. It is allowed to watch, and visitors can enter the main hall 10 minutes before it starts.
During the sermon, an elegant dance is performed. It is called Orihime-no-mai (Dance of the Weaver Women), and it is performed by four women dressed in costumes of the Nara period (about 1,300 years ago). The dance is dedicated before the principal image of Kokuzo Bosatsu, the guardian Buddha of proficiency in the arts, and they pray for improving the technique of needlework. The brightly-colored costumes and beautiful dance are a must-see!