Glossary (Phrase list) >> Shakyo, Sutra hand-copying

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Shakyo 写経, Sutra Hand Copying

 About Shakyo 


  Shakyo refers to hand copying a scripture in Buddhism, or a scripture that has been copied.

  Hand-copy of Sutra was necessary to spread the Buddhism and regarded as a training of monks when printing technology was not developed.

  Nowadays, Shakyo is not only for faith and Buddhist training, but for saving the historical material as well.  Also, there are some calligraphers often make Sutras as their written works.


  Here, I'm going to introduce the procedure of Shakyo trial that is offered by Hasedera temple to the common people. It's based on my first experience of hand-copying of the Sutra.

   We can experience Shakyo at other temples like Zen temples in Kamakura. The procedure might be a little different depending on the place, but I hope that your understanding of the following steps will be a good reference no matter where you try Shakyo.


 Shakyo trial at Hasedera 


  Reservation for Shakyo is not required as long as it's a small group like less than 10 persons.  We can start Shakyo anytime between 9:00a.m. - 3:00p.m.

  It's not called "Shakyo class" because a visitor writes letters oneself on each pace and finishes it at the end of writing.


  Purpose of this trial is to keep our mind calm by concentrating on tracing the letters or drawing of a Buddhist statue, which are already printed thinly on a sheet of paper instead of copying them onto blank paper.

  Therefore, it's does not matter whether our writings are beautiful or not.  The most important thing is to trace letters or drawing slowly and carefully so that we can calm our mind.


  It's required to finish all tracing to the end.  We are not basically allowed to quit in the middle, and have to leave the Shakyo works to the temple to be cleaansed by Buddha in the Shakyo treatmen ceremony afterward.


Read all Shakyo steps


FYI: Shako Treatment

  All sheets of the visitors' Shakyo will be treated in the Buddhist manner once in a while and saved in the storehouse.

  That's why, Shako visitors are required to leave Shako written by each visitor in the Shako hall.


  Even though we need to leave our Shakyo to the temple, it's allowed to take a picture of our works in the front garden of the Shakyo hall before we place them in the hall.  We need to go out of the hall with the Shakyo paper since photographing inside is prohibited.




  I'm a Japanese, but I don't write letters with writing-brush at all and barely do it even with pens since PC has helped me to make documents and letters.  Even so, I could feel comfortable when I focused on tracing Kanji letters one by one and finished Shakyo for the first time.


 I also felt that even overseas visitors who don't know Kanji letters and how to use writing-brush will be able to enjoy Shakyo since it's tracing instead of writing.


Related page: "Temple - tera" -Glossary-

Info of Hasedera's Shakyo

Kaikozan Kamakura's Hasedera

海光山 鎌倉長谷寺 (En)

Hours: 8:00a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Admission fee: 300yen per head

= Shakyo info = (Jp)

- Seven days a week except for the occasional temple's events

- Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 3:00p.m.

- Shakyo fee: 1,000 yen per head


1. Reservation is required in case of more than 10 persons in a group. 

* No reservation is acceptable for Saturday, Sunday and National holidays.

* Also, no reservation for the 18th every month.


As for the small group, you may may come anytime without reservation.


2. Give yourself plenty of time to spare when you come to Shakyo hall so that you will be able to finish by 3:00p.m. 


3. When all tables are occupied, we will have to control addmission.  Your understanding of that case would be highly appreciated.


4. We are asking little children like under 10 years old to refrain from entering the Shakyo hall.


5. No-handy-phone use in the hall and turn off your mobile devices.


6. No-photographing, No-chattering, No-smoking, No-foods & drinks in the hall.



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