harikuyo 針供養 (Needle Memorial Service) at Senso-ji Temple

Harikuyo, or the Needle Memorial Service, is a traditional Japanese ceremony held to honor and give thanks to used sewing needles and pins. This unique event takes place annually at Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo, on February 8th.

What is Harikuyo?

Harikuyo is a ritual that dates back over 400 years and is rooted in Japan’s deep respect for tools and craftsmanship. The ceremony involves seamstresses, tailors, and individuals who work with needles gathering to offer their used and broken needles to the gods. It is a way to express gratitude for the needles’ service and to pray for improved sewing skills and safety in future work.

The Ceremony
During the Harikuyo ceremony at Senso-ji Temple:

Offerings: Participants bring their used and broken needles to the temple. The needles are carefully placed into a soft block of tofu or konnyaku (a jelly-like food made from konjac yam). The softness of these foods symbolizes rest and comfort for the needles, acknowledging the hard work they have done.
Prayers: Monks or priests conduct a service where they recite prayers and chants. These prayers are meant to console the spirits of the needles and to give thanks for their contributions.
Reflection: The ceremony also provides a moment of reflection for the participants. They take time to think about their craft, the importance of their tools, and their hopes for future projects.

Why Visit During Harikuyo?

Visiting Senso-ji Temple during the Harikuyo ceremony offers a unique cultural experience. It is a rare opportunity to witness a traditional Japanese ritual that is not only about honoring tools but also about the mindfulness and respect that are integral to Japanese culture. Here are a few reasons to attend:

Cultural Insight: Harikuyo gives a deep insight into the Japanese value of respect for tools and the mindfulness associated with daily tasks.
Unique Experience: Unlike the more well-known festivals, Harikuyo is a quieter, more reflective ceremony, offering a different aspect of Japanese traditions.
Photographic Opportunities: The ceremony, with its unique offerings and solemn atmosphere, provides a beautiful and poignant scene for photography.
By attending the Harikuyo ceremony at Senso-ji Temple, visitors can gain a deeper appreciation for Japanese culture and the traditional practices that continue to be honored and preserved today.

This explanation should help international visitors understand the significance and beauty of the Harikuyo ceremony at Senso-ji Temple.

Here is an explanation of Senso-ji Temple: