23rd Annual Japanese New Year
Bell Ringing Ceremony
A unique, fun, and family friendly way to ring in the new year!
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
FREE with museum admission
Children 12 and under always admitted free!
10:00 am–2:00 pm: Art Activities
11:30 am: Bell Ringing Ceremony
Everyone is invited to participate in the auspicious Japanese tradition of striking a temple bell. This popular event offers the community a memorable opportunity to reflect peacefully upon the passing year.
As in past observances, a 2100-lb., sixteenth-century Japanese bronze bell originally from a temple in Tajima Province in Japan and now part of the museum's permanent collection will be struck 108 times with a large custom-hewn log. According to Japanese custom, this symbolically welcomes the New Year and curbs the 108 bonno (mortal desires) which, according to Buddhist belief, torment humankind.
It is hoped that with each reverberation the bad experiences, wrong deeds, and ill luck of the past year will be wiped away. Thus, tolling heralds the start of a joyous, fresh New Year.
There will be a short performance of Japanese folk songs preceding the ceremony. Then, Zen Buddhist priest Gengo Akiba Roshi will conduct a blessing and begin the bell ringing. Akiba Roshi is director of the Soto Zen Buddhism North American office. He is also Zen teacher at Oakland's Kojin-an Zendo.