March 18, 2012

More Loudly They Cry, More Healthy They Grow Up!

"The Second Month Ceremony  (修二会)" is the most exciting one in Nara,  well known as Torch Ceremony or Water Drawing Ceremony. Eleven Buddhist priests are confined to February Hall of Todai-ji Temple and perform strict rituals following precise schedule for two weeks ( March 1st to March 14th). The ceremony has been held since 752 without interruption!  The core of the ceremony is the repentance held in front of  eleven-faced Kannon (十一面観音), Buddhist deity of compassion and mercy . Eleven priests pray to Kannon for peace, happiness, welfare, good health, good weather and harvest on behalf of all the people of the world.
Torch Ceremony is part of Second Month Ceremony.

On March 15th, a lot of children are climbing up the stone steps to February Hall .

On 15th March , one day after the two-week long  second month ceremony was completed, the special event "Cap Dattan-bo, 韃靼帽いただかせ” is held for children in February Hall.  A precious cap called Dattan-bo is symbolically  put on  the head of a child. The caps of the same type were worn by the priests while they were performing the unique ritual. The children who wear Dattan-bo are promised to grow up healthy and strong. Many children start crying  loudly, but do not worry. Because it is said more loudly children cry, more healthy they grow up.  This day, their cry blows like pleasant breeze. Mothers' happily smiling faces make me feel as if I were in comfortable sunshine. Toast to wonderful families!

When my son was a child, I did not know this ceremony. Now it i s too late for him.

Many Cameramothers! From the balcony of February Hall,
the vast view of Nara Basin is enjoyed.

 Around 1pm on the same day, the side door of February Hall is open. Eleven priests who successfully finished hard rituals appear. Now is the time when the elven priests go home. They look covered with aura of contentment and relief. How venerable they are! People join hands and bow to them.

They are climbing down the stone steps.

Quiet footsteps sound.. This is a residential area for the priests.

One by one, saying "Good-bye".

Mischievous spring winds surprise them.
Once the second month ceremony is over, real spring is said to be here in Nara!

This is the approach to Great Buddha's Hall of Todai-ji Temple.  Around South Great Gate, 
 it is always crowded with  visitors and deer. The deer are usually very amicable
and friendly, but on this day  they seem to be terse and fed up with people. 
 Because of two-week ceremony, too many people have visited the temple!

Crimson Ume, Japanese apricot flowers in full bloom.

 my blog about the second month ceremony, written in March, 2011.


  1. Once again you impress me with your knowledge of your culture and the many ceremonies you have to mark the times and seasons.

    I enjoyed your pictures also. Japan and it's people are filled with beauty and grace. Have a wonderful week.

  2. Two weeks praying - for a long time completed each year. Connecting with the people before us and the people comming. Beautiful described.

  3. Another lovely post with such exquisite shots. And what a wonderful festival in which the cries of children are actually celebrated!

  4. Thank you so much for this post, Showwhite! I've read about this festival, but this post really made me feel as if I were there, walking right next to you!

    You took stunning photos. The priests have beautiful faces and the crying babies are so cute! ^^

    I still hope I can see this myself, one day, but after visiting it with you on your blog, I'm happy to wait a big longer.

  5. 突然の質問なんですが、snowwhiteさんはカメラをお仕事にされてたりするんですか?

  6. Thank you for sharing this lovely ceremony. Mickie :)

  7. 幼いお子さんを育てる若いお母さん達の笑顔と泣く子が育つという大らかな行事に心なごみます。幼いぷくぷくとした手を合わせて祈る姿、本当に可愛いですね!美しい坂道を下る僧侶の袈裟の乳白色が春の光に映えて綺麗。春の奈良、実に素敵です☆⌒d(*^ー゚)b お見事な写真の数々に感謝です。

  8. 「おたいまつ」から、焦点を「行の終了後」にあてたレポート。普段はあまり目にすることがないので新鮮です。厳しい行を無事に遂行された僧侶たちの安堵と満足の笑顔が印象的です。


  9. I enjoyed learning about this second month. The photos are wonderful! It's so good to hear from you again, Keiko!

  10. To 比屋根悠亮さん、


  11. そうなんですか。それにしてもどの写真も美しすぎます!見習いたいです。

  12. Another beautiful and facinating story. Spring is here, the cries of children are celebrated and all is right in the world. Thanks for sharing.

  13. Hello Keiko, What a wonderful picture-story of the Second Month Ceremony. The photos of the monks descending the steps are dramatic. I like seeing the sweet faces of the children. Happy spring in Nara!

  14. Beautiful shot!!!

  15. いつもながらすごい写真と背景の叙述。奈良に長く住んでいながら知らないことがいっぱい。韃靼帽はTVで観ているより、このポストの方が魅力的ですね。

  16. Beautiful,descriptive photos Keiko.I love the purple robes,I like all colours but this is one of my favourites. What a great way to accept the noise of crying children,we all want our children to grow up healthy!
    The torch ceremony looks spectacular.

    Enjoy your day,

  17. 写真に人の持つエネルギーが現れてますね。説明も勉強になりますし、とてもよいと思います。。

  18. 写真と語りによるすばらしい実況中継!  話には聞いていましたが、実際に行ったことはありませんので大変ありがたいです。私は大勢人のいる中での人物撮影は苦手ですが、snow-whiteさんは特に人物を撮るのがお上手ですね。 泣いても笑ってもおごそかでもみなさん活き活き写っています。

  19. トーチセレモニーは、すごいですね。何本も松明がふりかざされて。きれいに火の粉がまいおちていますね。特別席から撮られたように朱色が印象的です。

  20. Hello snowwhite,

    Such a beautiful tradition - the crying children and the smiling mothers. The photographs are beautiful and helped me see and get a feel of the tradition as if I were there in person. Many thanks for sharing such an interesting ceremony with so many pictures and narrative.

    Have a wonderful day, snowwhite :)

  21. What a fascinating ceremony. I appreciate you giving insight into this very special day. How nice prayers include the entire globe since we all share similar “mischievous spring winds”, joys and sorrows! The crying children remind me of little ones in my part of the world during Christmas and how they often react when they see Santa Claus. The climbing of the stairs must surely contribute to the well being of the people who attend this ceremony, as it is good exercise as well as uplifting spiritually. Wishing you a happy week, snowwhite. :)

  22. This is an exceptional post! Showing great knowledge of traditions of your country. I love that Spring is shown honour and welcomed. In the West we have moved away from nature and I think we often do not appreciate the changing of seasons and nature because we do not mark them.

    Minerva x

  23. いやはやすばらしい!本当にいい表情が撮れていますね!どの写真も躍動感に満ちています。ヘッダーの写真もすごくステキです。



  24. there is no more delightful pleasure for me than visiting your blog and learning of the rituals, ceremonies. I love the looks on the faces of the children and the priest. and the shoes that the priests are wearing. they are unusual and I'm wondering how they sound on the stones of the street. the smiles are beautiful. thanks for this story Keiko. (and thank you for the word association with the seasons - they are perfect). happy spring to you.

  25. harumiさん、

  26. Hello, snowwhite.

     Your sweet message and works charms my heart.

     I thank for your usual and hearty support.
     The prayer for all peace.

    ruma ❃

  27. Beautiful as usual! Your posts are fascinating.

  28. Awesome photos! I hope to be visiting Japan around August so many I can snap some myself.

  29. Ms.東大寺さんは、東大寺から許可をもらって内部の写真を撮られるのですか!あの方もブログを開いておられるのでしょか?snowwhite さんも是非許可をもらって撮影して下さい。

  30. red roseさん、

  31. Great serie...
    I would like to see that myself,
    Best regards from France...


  32. Beautiful! Lovely blog ~ I'm now following ~ ♥♥

  33. Why do you have so many magical ceremonies in Japan?
    I love this post because you show your beautiful traditions with wonderful photos and words.
    I love the idea of celebrating spring with honer and prayer. To mark the changing of the seasons is so important. I wish we had the Torch ceremony here in England.
    Spring blessings,

  34. 十数年前奈良に住んでいた時に友達と一緒にお水取りを見に行った事を思い出してしまいました。

  35. Once again thank you for my history lesson. you have such interesting post and for that I thank you!

  36. This is a wonderful post. I really laughed to see the different expressions on the babies' faces. Some of them were so cross, but I like the one best of the smiling one with its tongue sticking out!

    I wish I could see this festival, your photographs do give the feeling and impression of it, and, as usual, make me hope that one day I will be able to come and watch at least some beautiful Japanese festivals for myself.

  37. Another very interesting post with lovely pictures and enlightening description. The little children crying are so cute. Your pictures show well how much the people enjoyed this Second Month Ceremony. What a wonderful ceremony – thanks for taking us there.

  38. Hello, snowwhite.

      Your heartwarming work provokes my impression.
      The passion for the art.  It is universal.

      Thank you visit to the garden of the cherry blossoms.
      The prayer for all peace.

    Have a good weekend. ruma ❀

  39. Keiko, somehow I missed this beautiful post until today - I love the photos of the beautiful and fresh, I just want to touch their cheeks. And the Eleven Priests make me feel peaceful and confident, just looking at them.

    I hope someday to visit your beautiful country, and see some of these lovely ceremonies in person...
    But meantime, thankfully, we have you to report on them!


Thanks a lot for visiting my blog and leaving warm messages. I will visit your site soon. keiko