The five main ceremonies are all observed in the same style: Buddha´s birth, enlightenment, nirvana, Bodhidaruma Memorial and Kaisanki Founder Memorial. 

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January Ceremony

10th Rinzai Memorial Day

This memorial day is being observed since Sogenji and the One Drop tradition are in the Rinzai lineage. On this day for morning sutras "choka" the Ryogonshu is read in a seated fashion, standing only during the first and last section. Then the "Preface to the Recorded Sayings of Zen Master Rinzai" is read in Japanese and English.

February Ceremony

15th Nirvana Day

On this day the Buddha passed into Paranirvana. In Sogenji the huge scroll is being put up in the Hondo.

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April Ceremony

8th Buddha´s Birthday

Please see details here.

August Ceremony

OBON - usually on the 15th.

Everyone gathers around 8:30 pm (just before dusk), drinking a cup of tea. Then folding small lanterns, writing the names of their dear one on them, whom they would like to remember. We light the candles and everyone carries their personal lanterns to the yaza porch.We stand in a line in front of the altar, waiting for everyone to arrive.
Each person goes in front of the altar, bows, places the lantern on the altar, lights an incense stick, places it in the incense burner, bows, steps back in line.When all lanterns have been placed on the altar, we sit down and read the English Heart Sutra with Mokugyo. After that one period of zazen. People can leave quietly one by one, or continue to sit zazen outside. Pictures here

September Ceremony

AKI HIGAN Fall Equinox - usually on the 23rd 

Shodo Harada Roshi: "The fall and the autumn equinox correspond to each other. These are the days, when day and night are equally long. In order for day and night to be equal, the sun needs to rise in the East and set exactly in the West. This is the ceremony which is connected to the Segaki ceremony.  It has been the teaching of the Buddha for one week at the time of this equinox, to not kill any living beings but to use one´s energy to raise and support life, protecting all life while quieting your mind. So that we may even a little get closer to the state of mind of the Buddha, that is why we continue our efforts for a whole week. May this world become more and more a place of peace – let us all actually work on this becoming true. During the Segaki ceremony we give offerings to hungry ghosts, yet actually these ghosts are to be found in our mind, which we can deeply repent through our zazen practice."

October Ceremony

5th Bodhidharuma Memorial Day

On the 5th of October it is said that Bodhidharuma´s body was placed in the coffin, yet when later opened again, he was not there. 

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8th Enlightenment day

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24th Kaisanki - Memorial Day for the Founder 

"Deji Myoshin Taishitsumon Zenzu Dai Osho" of Hokuozan Sogenji Monastery - see ceremony below

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Most formal ceremonies 

Offerings of a full meal - Ryoguzen - as well as hot water with medicine (cinnamon), macha and candy, fresh flowers and incense are presented on the altar. The Roshi gives a poem especially written for that days occasion in the traditional Chinese form.

Ceremony Order:

Most formal wear and white socks "Tabi" 
offering of rice and hot water (with medicine "cinnamon") 
offering of candy and green tea "macha" 
giving incense stick to Roshi who then offers a poem 
beginning of Ryogonshu walking 
standing Eko 
sampai for sangha

The walking ceremony is done with everyone participating, the main sutra leader walking ahead and setting the pace of the walk. depending on how many people participate, it is done in a circle or in a winding manner. Yet what is important is that the distance between each person as well as between the first and last person is the same so that the groups walks as one being. Sutras were read like this already in China where they had tiles on the floor as you can see in the Kaisando in Sogenji. The sutra being read is a section of the Surangama Sutra, which is one of the four sutras which Bodhidharuma brought to China. 

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