Hoon-ko (a memorial services for Shinran) (報恩講)
Hoon-ko refers to a memorial service which was held around the anniversary of the death of Shinran (1173 - 1262), the founder of Jodo Shinshu (True Pure Land Sect of Buddhism) for the purpose of Hon shatoku (repayment for indebtedness) to the founder.
It is said that the service originated from Hongan-ji the third, Kakunyo's compiling "Hoon-ko Shiki" (Buddhist sutra for Hon-ko (a memorial services for Shinran)) at the thirty-third anniversary of the death of Shinran.
Hoon-ko is the most important service in the annual events to the priests and believers of Jodo Shinshu. It is the most solemn service as well.
The service conducted at the head temple is called Goshoki Hoon-ko and it is conducted for a week, with Shinran's death day being Kechigan (the last day).
(The schedule is described below.)
The service is called 'Otorikoshi' or 'Ohikiage' in branch temples and it is conducted before or after Goshoki Hoon-ko for one to three days or for five days.
The service is also conducted in the way of 'Otorikoshi' or 'Ohikiage,' in front of believers' Onaibutsu (butsudan, a Buddhist alter) with the chief priest from the temple, O-tetsugi-dera Temple, to which the believers belong.
The reason why they change the dates for the service is that it is a custom for every priest and believer to visit the head temple during Goshoki Hoon-ko.
The schedule of Goshoki Hoon-ko according to schools
January 9 to 16: the Jodo Shinshu Hongan-ji school (O-nishi) and Shinshu Takada sect
November 21 to 28: Shinshu Otani school (O-higashi), Shinshu Bukkoji Sect, Shinshu Kosho school, Shinshu Kibe school, Shinshu Josho-ji school, Shinshu Sanmonto school and Shinshu Yamamoto school.
December 21 to 28: Shinshu Izumoji school
November 23 to 28: Jodo Shinshu sect Higashi Hongan-ji school
The reason the dates of the service differ according to each school
Shinran Shonin entered nirvana in November 28, 1262 (by the old calendar) (January 16, 1263 by the solar calendar). Some schools conduct the service based on the date of Shinran's entering nirvana by the old calender (November 28) and others do so by converting the date based on the solar calendar (January 16).
(Shinshu Izumoji school conduct the service one month later.)