What? And Why Do We Do That?
  1. What's with the wacky counting system for Hoji (hoe-jee) memorial service years?
    For hundreds of years, this counting system has been somewhat confusing for members and it must be even more so for BCA members who come from non-Japanese backgrounds. Currently we often hear people refer to the time period as "cycles" and not "years."

    For instance, if a person died in January of 2007, then the first cycle is completed in January of 2008. Then the second cycle runs from January 2008 to January 2009, and then the third cycle starts in January 2009. We would usually observe the "First Year" Memorial which would be held around January 2008, and then a "Third Year" memorial would be held around January 2009 since it marks the beginning of the third cycle. After the third year memorial, the next memorial would usually be the Seventh year memorial, which would fall around January 2013.

    Traditionally, within the BCA temples, families and loved ones will observe the following memorial services for a deceased loved one: 7th Day, 49th Day, 1 Year, 3rd Year, 7th Year, 13th Year, 17th Year, 25th Year, 33rd Year, 50th Year. But members are free to observe a memorial service whenever they wish. For us in the Shin tradition, we must keep in mind that every opportunity to gather together is an opportunity to hear and listen to the Dharma. Services and observances can be done at the temple, at home or any other appropriate location.
  2. So, then if we have these set "memorial service" observances, what is the "Shotsuki Hoyo" (Show-tsoo-key ho-yo)?
    The Shotsuki Hoyo or Monthly Memorial service is an annual way of remembering a loved one who died in a certain month at the temple.
  3. Are there other kinds of religious observances?
    In the Shin and Japanese Buddhist tradition, there are many kinds of observances. Shin Buddhists have dedication services for new homes, new home altars, new businesses, new business locations, etc. Special Memorial observances can be held for ancestors or if you are in a profession that depends on a tool or instrument for your work, you can pay your respects and gratitude to these objects with a memorial service. In Japan, seamstresses will have an annual memorial service for broken needles which are the life line of their profession. Those who study flower arranging (ikebana) will have an annual memorial service to honor all the flowers that have been used to create their flower arrangements.

    Some Buddhist sects conduct blessings, exorcisms, etc., however, in Shin Buddhism, we do not practice these traditions as we do not believe in superstitions or depend on other gods and Buddhas. more …