Joya No Kane @ Zenkō-ji

My nose is like a time bomb. A bout of sneezing assaults me without warning, giving Mr.B on my bed a shockwave. *SIGH*
I requested Hubbie to bring back a famed Cronut from NYC as a souvenir but was being told it wouldn’t be happening. He explained that the Cronut wouldn’t last very long as it was meant to be eaten fresh. Therefore, I will have to wait until Dominique Ansel Bakery opens another branch in London. Oh, dammit…

On the 31st of December, I was walking through the Zenkō-ji compound. It was a cold day and some snowfall was expected…

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The temple was strangely quiet. The stillness floating around the forecourt of the main hall was imbued with silent excitement. After all, the temple was facing one of the biggest event of the year, a New Year’s Eve – thousands of worshippers would descend upon the temple.
The Hondō (本堂) – main hall sat serenely under the wintry afternoon sky like a monk in meditation…

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Next to the Zenkō-ji’s main hall, there was a timber-structured belfry with a large bronze bell…

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This six-pillared belfry was rebuilt in 1853 and the bronze bell was cast in 1667.
On New Year’s Eve, the bell is to be rung 108 times.
Why 108 times? There are a few theories. But the most popular belief goes like this…
There are 36 kinds of Bonno (煩悩) – a human vice, such as temptation, laziness, lust, resentment, etc. Each 36 vices for past-life, present-life and future-life equal 108. Therefore, the bell is rung 108 times in order to cleanse those vices. The bell is to be rung 107 times during the last night of the passing year and the last 108th to be rung when the new year arrives…

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The manner in which the arrival of new year is announced, varies depending on where you are. In Britain for example, it is greeted with the sound of popping champagne corks, a chorus of Auld Lang Syne and a barrage of fireworks. It’s all merry & exciting. And I love it. However, I am also very fond of the much less raucous way in which the Japanese new year arrives.

My mum went to bed around 11 o’clock. I tidied up the kitchen and made myself a mug of hot milk. Then, I heard the first strike of the bell in the distance. The resonating sound followed by a deliberate pause repeatedly traveled over the deathly quiet night sky. I opened the window and inhaled icy cold air, savouring my first breath of 2014. Then, I visited mum’s bedroom and whispered ‘A happy new year to you, mum’. She returned the greeting sleepily. That was how my 2014 arrived.
How did yours come by?…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

A Happy New Year!!

The year 2014 is upon us!
Zenko-ji temple’s bell is ringing solemnly in the distance…

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Let’s hope 2014 will be even more prosperous for all of us…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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