This month, several Myosenji Temple members are making a Buddhist pilgrimage to our Head Temple, Taisekiji, located near the foot of Mt. Fuji in Japan.
As a Nichiren Shoshu believer, making a Buddhist pilgrimage is called going on Tozan. The word “Tozan” literally means to ‘climb the mountain.’ It is part of our Buddhist practice.
One of the activities members participate in while on Tozan is Ushitora Gongyo. At the Head Temple, Ushitora Gongyo, a great tradition which has continued for more than 750 years, is held at the Reception Hall (Kyakuden). It is officiated by the High Priest during the hours of the ox and the tiger.
Ushitora, translated literally as ‘Ox and Tiger,’ indicates the time centered around three in the morning; this is the time between the hours of the Ox (1:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.) and the hours of the Tiger (3:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.). These hours have been designated as the time of the arrival of the light and the departure of the dark. This is the time when the darkness of night gradually vanishes and when the sun in the eastern sky makes its appearance in the form of dawn; it is the transition time in the movement of nature, between night and day and between dark and light. The hours of the Ox and Tiger are the hours of transformation from death as a common mortal to the beginning of life as a Buddha. Ushitora time, therefore, is the time when all Buddhas realize their enlightenment.
To learn more about becoming a Buddhist, chanting Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo or making a Buddhist pilgrimage, visit Myosenji Temple for our Introduction to Buddhism meeting series.
Excerpted from: Nichiren Shoshu Basics of Practice, pages 93-95.