We performed Irei-sai, a Sintō Memorial service on Sunday, March 10th for the victims of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011 and 2016 Kumamoto earthquake, 2018 Hokkaidō earthquake. Our service was aired on abc TV and NHK as well as other media. Through impression of traditional Japanese ritual, Shintō service, more people got encouragement to pray victims and remember people are still suffering, have not done recovering, as well as how the importance of preparation.

NHK report can watch this link. (Note: It might have expiration date of this link).

We will hold a Shintō memorial service on Sunday, March 10th for the victims of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011. This ceremony will be performed as part of the “Love to Nippon” event. Please come and pray with us for the spirits of victims.

When: Sunday, March 10th

12.00pm – 12.20pm: Irei-sai / Memorial Service

12.20pm – 2pm: Open to the Public

Where: Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters

100 W 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Message from a Shintō Priest:

Shintō is the basis of Japanese culture and customs. From ancient times, the Japanese have believed there are deities in everything, and paid their respects by building Jinja (Shintō shrines) in places where those deities are believed to reside. Japanese fishermen, whose livelihoods depend on the ocean, strongly believe in the spirits of the ocean and pay their respects in this Shintō tradition. Many fishermen and their families were victims of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

In this ceremony we will also be honoring the victims of the Kumamoto earthquake of 2016 and the Hokkaidō earthquake of 2018.  Unlike the Tōhoku earthquake, these disasters primarily affected people living in mountainous areas and close to the natural forests where Shintō deities are believed to reside.  As Shintō priests, it is our duty to calm these natural spirits both at sea and on land.

For over 800 years, Shusse Inari Jinja has been located in Shimane Prefecture, where all of the deities in Japan are said to gather once a year. Even though Shimane is geographically far from Tōhoku, Kumamato, and Hokkaidō, we share the same respect for Shinto deities. As a Shinto priest from Shusse Inari Jinja and Shusse Inari Shrine of America, I would like to perform a ceremony of requiem to bring peace to the spirits of the victims of this tragedy.

Our service will take roughly 20 minutes, beginning with a purification ritual and continuing with offerings and prayers for the victims.  Although 20 minutes may seem like a long time, each element of the service is important, and skipping or shortening any portion would be disrespectful to both the spirits as well as the victims we are honoring.

Rev. Izumi Hasegawa

Shinto Shrine of Shusse Inari in America

We held Setsubun-sai on Friday, February 1st at Montessori International Academy (2717 South Halladay Street, Santa Ana, CA 92705).  After the ceremony, we provided Setsubun-no-Harai and Yakubarai for Yakudoshi (critical year) services.

We also provided traditional ritual services for purifying and recharging the spirit. Please see below.

And we provided Gokitoh service of Yakubarai for Yakudoshi (critical year) people.

About Setsubun

The original meaning of Setsubun is “dividing season,” and the beginning of each of the four seasons was called Setsubun. However, the day before the first day of spring in the lunar calendar is New Year’s Eve, and as it marks the seasonal change from harsh winter to spring, it came to be considered an especially important day. During the Edo period, Setsubun came to exclusively mean the day before the first day of spring. This year, the first day of spring is actually February 4th, making Setsubun February 3rd, but we held Setsubun-sai on February 1st due to venue availability. We hold this Setsubun ceremony to show respect and appreciation and present our wishes to the nature spirits.  This ceremony is free to attend.

About Sestubun-no-harai (Purify and recharge your spirit for The New Year).

This is a very traditional ritual service that has been passed from generation to generation for many years in Shusse Inari Shrine. This ritual is centered around the use of Hitogata. From ancient times, the Japanese people have prayed for purification, and to be rid of the previous year’s Kegare. New Year’s rituals are for cleansing and refreshing of energy for their spirit. Kegare, or “withered spirit”. Over the course of the year, the energy of a person’s spirit is diminished by tiredness, stress, and other pressures, so New Year’s rituals are performed to cleanse and refresh this energy and recharge the spirit.

We distribute Hitogata at the Setsubun-sai venue, so please let us know if you are interested in this service. Please reference our flyer for more detail about Hitogata.

The Hitogata is a minimum $10 donation in advance per participant (including the ritual service fee) Note: Attendance of this ritual service is not required.

About Yakudoshi

Over the many years of a person’s life, many changes may take place in their body and/or environment. As a result, it is said there is a risk of meeting with misfortune. Years in which there is an increased chance of misfortune are called Yakudoshi, meaning “Critical Years.” It is apparent from historical texts that Yakudoshi already existed as a custom during the Heian Period in Japan (794 CE – 1185). However, Yakudoshi are not the only years that one needs to take into account. In addition to the designated critical year (or “Hon-Yaku”), the year before a critical year (“Mae-Yaku)”, and the year after (“Ato-Yaku)”, also require careful attention in order to avoid misfortune. For this reason, it is necessary to think of Yakudoshi as a three-year period. During this three-year period, people go to Shinto Shrines in order to receive prayers from priests to ward off evil and to cleanse themselves of its influence. People also pray to purify their bad luck, and for good luck charms to bring about better fortune.

It is said that Yakudoshi begins from first day of spring, so it is customary for people of Yakudoshi age to receive Yakubarai (purification) services on that day. The Yakudoshi ages for women are 18, 32, and 36, and for men are 24, 41 and 60. We provid Yakubarai services for Yakudoshi. An appointment is required for the Yakubarai service, please contact us to schedule.  The Yakudoshi service fee is minimum $60.

Setsubun (February 3rd) is New Years in the lunar calendar, it is the day a new season begins. From ancient times, the Japanese people have prayed for purification, and to be rid of the previous year’s Kegare. New Year’s rituals are for cleansing and refreshing of energy for their spirit. Kegare means “withered spirit.” During the year, the energy of people’s spirit gets low due to tiredness, stress, etc. Shusse Inari Shrine of America provides traditional ritual services for purifying and recharging the spirit.  One of the ritual actions taken for this is the use of Hitogata. (Paper shape of human; Please see illustration). Please write your name and age on the Hitogata, then wipe the Hitogata on the body part you want to improve or renew. For example, wipe your knee if you have knee pain, or wipe your head if you want to be smarter, etc.

Finally, hand us the Hitogata before the ceremony if you plan to attend the Setsubun ceremony. We will hold 2019’s Setsubun ceremony on Feb. 1st at Montessori International Academy (2717 S. Halladay St., Santa Ana, CA), details can be found on our Newsletter, website, and social media.

If you do not plan on attending, please mail the Hitogata back to us with application form. Please print clearly since we read them during the ceremony. In Shinto, it is believed that the Hitogata represents the person concerned, so in the ceremony it carries all their Kegare.

The service fee for this purifying and recharging the spirit at Setsubun is minimum $10 per person (For our shrine members there is no fee for this purifying and recharging the spirit service, since it is included in the membership fee).

If you are interested in this service, please email us to further information. Hitogata need to be received no later than January 31st.

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