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Shomyo performance

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    Obakushu Daihonzan Manpuku-ji no Bonbai

    Performance Date : Sep.7,2019
    Performance Time : 2:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
    *End time is estimate and may vary.

    Venue : National Theatre (Large Theatre)

    Tickets (Tax included)
    Adult = 1st Grade 5,000 yen / 2nd Grade  4,000 yen
    Student = 1st Grade 3,500 yen / 2nd Grade 2,800 yen
    Seating plan

    *Audio guide: No audio guide available.
    *Subtitles: Available only in Japanese. Displayed on screen beside the stage.
    *English synopsis is available. Please ask at the reception desk.

    Handy guide! History of Japanese music: Shomyo

    Booking Opens
    July 11, 2019

    Box Office
     +81-3-3230-3000 (10:00 - 18:00(JST)) in Japanese and English
    Internet reservations : https://ticket.ntj.jac.go.jp/top_e.htm


    Counter Sales 
    available from July 11, 2019

    in Japanese

    Located in Uji City, Kyoto Prefecture, Manpuku-ji is the head temple of Ōbaku-shū, one of the Zen sects. Ingen Zenshi (a high-ranking Zen monk), who came to Japan from the Fujian Province of China in 1654, received the devotion of the retired emperor Gomizunoo and the Fourth Tokugawa Shōgun Ietsuna and founded the temple in 1661. The atmosphere of the Ming dynasty still remains here in part because the Buddhist statues, sutras, and other artifacts were brought into the temple by the monk later in the period.
    In Ōbaku-shū, Shōmyō (Japanese Buddhist chant) is called Bonbai. Its main characteristics are that: 1. Bonbai is usually chanted in the Chinese dialect of the Ming dynasty called tōin (Tang reading); 2. Compared to the Shōmyō of other sects, Bonbai has a faster pace with a clearer rhythm; 3. Bonbai uses various musical instruments such as mokugyo (wood block), taiko (drum) and dora (gong); and 4. Bonbai is totally instructed by voice as there is no music score.
    Today’s program introduces Chōka, a morning sutra chant at Manpuku-ji, and Segaki and Daihannya Tendoku, Buddhist rites at the special memorial service, in one performance.

    A typical day at Manpuku-ji starts at 4:30 in the morning, when the monk beats the junshōban using a wooden hammer and then makes his rounds in the temple as a wakeup call. You can experience Bonbai, which is chanted daily at Chōka, including “Hannya-shingyō (the Heart Sutras),” “Shukuidagi” and “Shinshinfugange.”

    The most distinctive memorial service at Manpuku-ji, Segaki is held at “Ura-bon-e” in July and the Chinese Bon event “Fudo-shō-e” in October. The aim of the service is to offer food to relieve the suffering of hungry ghosts in hell. Bonbai chanted in Segaki is done at a particularly fast pace, and is accompanied by a variety of percussive sounds (mokugyo, taiko, etc,), thus livening up the atmosphere of the memorial service. It also has some characteristics of esoteric Buddhism; an officiating priest makes symbolic hand gestures and produces various movements while swinging bells and kongōsho (vajra, a mystical weapon in Hinduism and Buddhism), which is another must-see.

    Daihannya Tendoku
    This is a memorial service in which the monks recite Buddhist sutras by spreading out the 600-volume Daihannya-kyō (Great Wisdom Sutra) in the air. It is performed at the New Year to pray for spiritual protection of the state, protection against misfortune and for good luck. This “Hannya-shingyō” is chanted in Japanese pronunciation, not in tōin. The appearance of the monks who chant the accordion-folded Buddhist sutras is not only beautiful but also powerful. This is the first time for the National Theatre to introduce the Daihannya Tendoku of Manpuku-ji at a Shōmyō performance.

    Through the world of music unique to Ōbaku-shū, which evokes a Chinese atmosphere, the performance showcases numerous highlights, including rhythmical, brilliant Bonbai and the unique movements of the monks. Please don’t miss it!