Many people irrespective of their age, gender or nationality come to Yakushiji Temple to perform O-shakyo.
People come for various purposes.
Some come here wanting to experience O-shakyo to have time for internal reflection,
and others come to seek healing and peace of mind in their daily lives. Recently,
there have also been people who come to pray for the recovery of areas throughout the world
that have been affected by the frequent occurrence of natural disasters.
All of these people have stored their wishes in traced sutra,
and their offered sutras are permanently stored inside the halls and pagodas of Yakushiji Temple.
It is our desire to take the precious prayers of people living now and pass them down to future generations 1,000 or 2,000 years from now.
That is the purpose of Yakushiji Temple’s O-shakyo. O-shakyo can be done 365 days a year.
We provide all the tools that you will need to perform O-shakyo.
Please feel free to visit us at any time.
If you offer your traced sutra to Yakushiji Temple, it will be permanently stored inside the reconstructed shrine.
At Yakushiji Temple and its Tokyo branch, there is an O-shakyo Dojo (practice hall) that is fully equipped with all the necessary tools. (Chair Seating)(8:30 am–5:00 pm, open every day of the year. Advanced reservations are not required.)
We also have an O-shakyo text called “Hannya Shingyo no Kokoro (The Heart of the Heart Sutra)”
which has less characters and is easier for non-Japanese people to trace.
It is a Buddhist sutra in which the essence of the teachings of Buddha is condensed into 270 characters focusing on the idea of emptiness. This sutra is traced by many people of different sects and ages.
Date and time
Every day (including Sundays and national holidays). The temple opens at 8:30 am and closes at 5:00 pm.
Reservations are not required
O-shakyo Dojo on the grounds of Yakushiji Temple
What to Bring
Nothing (We provide all the necessary tools)
Permanent memorial service fee
Heart Sutra: 2,000 yen/scroll
Approximately 1–1.5 hours
Enter the hall
Offer your traced sutra and leave the hall
When should I do O-shakyo?
When you are unable to talk to someone about your worries or pains, you may just achieve the best possible answer by throwing your thoughts and emotions into O-shakyo. Single-mindedly tracing a template sutra will give you a sense of calm, and this should allow you to discover how you have been obsessed with something of such insignificance. O-shakyo is a repetition of this process.
How should I prepare myself for O-shakyo?
Many people come to do O-shakyo when they have something on their minds (such as worries, etc.), but there is no need to prepare yourself. Just go where your mind leads you as you thrust your thoughts and emotions upon the paper. Doing this will naturally make you calmer.
Will my wish come true if I do O-shakyo?
There is section that is labeled with the character for “wish” at the end of the sutra. Please write your wish, feelings of gratitude or feelings of repentance in this section. However, just writing something down is not enough to make things go easily. It is also important that you change your mentality and way of thinking. But we do get letters of appreciation from visitors saying that their wishes were granted.
What should I do with the sutra I have traced?
If you used paper sent to you from Yakushiji Temple, it will be permanently stored once you send it to us. If you used paper you prepared yourself, please offer it to a temple near you so that you don’t waste the sutra you have traced with all of your heart and soul.
If you can’t find a temple to offer it to, we will burn it at Yakushiji Temple after holding a service for it.
What happens to the traced sutras after they are offered to Yakushiji Temple?
The traced sutras will be offered before Yakushi Nyorai (the Buddha of healing and medicine) which is the temple’s principal image that has been enshrined in the Main Hall. The people’s wishes contained in these sutras will be relayed to the deity through gongyo (devotional exercises). On the next day, the offered sutras will be taken to the O-shakyo Dojo and the wishes will be relayed once more to the deity through gongyo. After that, the offered sutras are made into a bundle of one thousand scrolls and will be permanently stored in Yakushiji Temple’s offered-sutra repository for as long as the temple exists. At present, 8.5 million offered sutras have been permanently stored. Since offered sutras will be stored over a long period of time, it is important to trace sutras using writing materials such as India ink or a pencil that won’t fade away.
Will I be able to do O-shakyo even if I’ve never seen sutra before?
O-shakyo is done by placing a piece of paper over a template sutra and tracing the characters. Therefore, you will be able to do O-shakyo without issue even if it is your first time.
Is a person of any religion or sect allowed to do O-shakyo?
We welcome people of all sects. People from all over the world have traced and offered sutras to our temple.
Will children be able to do O-shakyo, too?
We have a template sutra for children available. Please ask a staff member at the reception desk of the dojo.
I can’t do the formal way of sitting where you sit on your heels. Will that be alright?
We have chairs for you to sit in.
I have bad handwriting. Will that be a problem?
Every person’s handwriting is different. O-shakyo is not about writing but a practice of the heart and soul. A sutra that has been traced by putting one’s heart and soul into each character is precious. So, it doesn’t matter whether you have good or bad at handwriting.
Can I use a writing tool other than an ink brush to do O-shakyo?
You may also use a pencil to do O-shakyo. Since the offered sutra will be permanently stored for a long time, India ink (ink brush) or a pencil that doesn’t fade away should be used. Do not use a ballpoint pen or a marker because they fade away over time.
Is there anything we should bring with us?
The dojo is fully equipped with all the necessary tools for O-shakyo, so there is no need to bring anything in particular.
Do I need to make a reservation to do O-shakyo?
Reservations are not required. However, if you are planning to visit the temple in a group of seven persons or more, you can avoid waiting by making a reservation in advance.
How much time will it take to do O-shakyo?
The time to do O-shakyo will vary depending on your familiarity with using an ink brush, but you should expect it to take about 1–1.5 hours.
Do I need to write the whole sutra in a single session?
O-shakyo may be done by writing one character a day or by taking turns with your family to write each line. As for when it should be done, you can do O-shakyo whenever you like. Please find a way that allows you to do O-shakyo comfortably.
When can I do O-shakyo at Yakushiji Temple?
We are open every day of the year. Since the temple opens at 8:30 am and closes at 5:00 pm, you will be able to take your time to do O-shakyo if you visit our temple before 3:30 pm.
Can I take home the template sutra that I used?
The template sutra used at the O-shakyo Dojo is for everyone to use. If you would like a copy of the template sutra, please ask a staff member at the reception desk. We will provide you with a copy to take home with you.
Can I bring in and offer sutra that I traced at home?
There are two types of traced sutras that you may bring to our temple. If your sutra has been written using paper provided by Yakushiji Temple, it will be permanently stored at our temple. If your sutra has been written using different paper, it will be burned after a service is held for it.