Purified for New YearHigashi Honganji and Nishi Hongwanji Temples, Kyoto20 December 2015 - Temples/Shrines
To clean up the dust of the year, "Susuharai," or the annual hall cleaning event, took place on December 20, at Nishi Hongwanji and Higashi Honganji Temples in Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto. Participants beat tatami mats laid in the enormous halls with bamboo sticks, and blew away the flung-up dust with large fans.
It is said that, to express pleasure for having spent a safe year, the event has been performed for more than 500 years, starting from the times of Rennyo, the restorer of the temples. In Nishi Hongwanji Temple, approximately 900 people participated. In addition to the monks and laity, there were 98 people selected from public applications for the first time. After Kojun Otani, the temple's head priest, made a side-to-side sweeping gesture with roughly four-meter-long broom called "Hotei" at 7:00 a.m., the participants beat the tatami mats. Katsuya Kitaura, from Suita City, Osaka Prefecture who participated through application along with five family members, said, "My hands hurt from the bamboo sticks, and my feet were cold, but I enjoyed cleaning."
Cleaning started at 9:00 a.m. at Higashi Honganji Temple. In Goeido Hall, one of the world's largest wooden buildings, approximately 180 monks and laypeople wearing coverall aprons recited chants, then lined up side by side and beat the tatami mats. At the end, Choken Otani, the temple's head priest, wrote the Chinese character "Kotobuki," meaning blessing or long life, in the air with a broom to wrap up.
Photo= People beating tatami mats and cleaning up dust in the hall permeated with early-morning sunlight (December 20, Nishi Hongwanji Temple, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto)(translated by Galileo, Inc.)