Basic Sequence of Nichiren Shu Funeral

     [may be performed in English or Japanese]


SHOMYO Opening hymn, a sung invocation
KAI KYO GE Opening sutra
DOKYO Sutra reading, chapter 12 for women. 21 for men
SHUSAN NYOHATCHI symbols and gong
 Opening the casket / unveiling the urn Offerings of tea, prayer, fruit, water
INDOMON instructions to the deceased and sealing the casket
CHOJI reading condolences
SHODAI chanting daimoku and offering incense
HOTO GE difficulty of retaining the sutra
EKO closing prayer
SHISEI the four great vows
SHOMYO closing hymn


 The location can be funeral home, temple, park etc. In lieu or in addition to a funeral, one can donate altar items, buildings, furniture in memory of the deceased


  • fraternal
  • military
offering flowers hanajin flower person, ikebana
offering akido bujin martial arts
offering a bowl of tea chajin tea person
offering of music for a musician or patron

YOHON : is the chanting selected chapters of the Lotus Sutra and dedicated to the deceased, lasting about 2.5 to 3 hours.  Shorter versions can also be incorporated into memorial anniversary services.

KOZA SEKKYO: platform teaching, very traditional and formal, lasting about 20-30 minutes, can be held after the reception or on a separate day, such as during the following Sunday’s service.

AKOCHO:   temple’s monthly ritual honoring the deceased members of the sangha on their death date.

O HIGAN: bi-annual, spring and fall equinox ritual with the members supplying the names of the deceased.

O BON: annual ritual for the visiting spirits of the deceased.

TOBA : Plain wood placards with the name of the deceased kept at the temple and burned at the next OTAKEYAGE


responsibility of the family to submit the form timely and include a donation of $10.00 per TOBA

EITAIKYO : Perpetual memorial service conducted annually and is important for those having no remaining family to remember them.  If a temple is closed the maintenance of the annual eitaikyo is done by the absorbing temple.

locally there is a $1,000.00 charge for the perpetuity.


  1. 1.沐浴Mokuyoku (Bathing)This takes place prior to the ceremony, to cleanse the body by wiping it with a damp cloth.  Please prepare the yukata or white cloth to cover the body, along with two-white cloth, hot-water pot, wash bucket, and ladle.  This ceremony is a rite of purification, to protect the deceased from evil spirits.  The order of washing is the chest, abdomen, and legs.  In the hour after a person has died, the lips of the deceased are moistened, and the body is washed and dressed in a white kimono, with the right side folded over the left to be the opposite mirror of the way a kimono is normally folded on the living. The body is then left in state, in preparation for the journey to the afterlife.
  2.  除髪 Johatsu (Shaving)The face is shaved if the deceased is male and then the face is made up with makeup regardless of whether the deceased is male or female to make them look as much like they did in life as possible.
 -Please prepare all white clothing and give Sensei these clothes before the time of death and give them to Sensei or before the funeral ceremony, so that he may write the appropriate phrases from the Sutra on each item.  If the person is a member of an Enkyoji Temple, they may have a pilgrim box with everything prepared for the priest.  These may be sewn or purchased.

3.      経帷子Kyōkatabira (White Coat with Sūtra)
4.      頭巾  Zukin (Head covering)
5.      上帯Uaobi (Belt)
6.      手甲Tekkō (Hand Cover)
7.      頭陀袋- Zudabukuro (Bag) It is customary that inside this bag be included a few small treasured items and six coins on a string. The coins symbolize the necessary “toll” for the River of Three Crossings, the river to the afterlife.
8.      Read more: Japanese-Funerals-Customs
9.      脚絆Kyahan (Leg Covering)
10.   足袋Tabi (Socks) 

 When your family goes through this experience the temple is here to help you in this difficult time.

It is important that you feel comfortable in knowing that you can depend upon Sensei and the Sangha to help you. Along with Sensei, the temple leaders and elders have experience in assisting with funeral arrangements and we will do all that we can to help you.  These are the first steps leading up to a death or at the time of death.


  1.  Notify Sensei.
  2.  Notify the mortuary.drawing
  3.  Sensei will arrive and conduct the Makuragyo service. Makuragyo literally means, pillow sutra. Traditionally this service was held immediately following the death of a person. Therefore, the sutra was chanted at the pillow, where the deceased’s head was laying, the priest will moisten their lips called Matsugo-no-mizu (“Water of the last moment”) followed by all the family members present. This should be held immediately after death. This is a service for the family and friends who were closest to the deceased. The Makuragyo service can be held as soon as death has occurred or whenever arrangements can be made for the immediate family to gather.


Please prepare a small table covered in a clean white table cloth.  A vase with flowers or sakaki branches,  offering cup with with water, incense burner, incense for offering, bell, and a candle.  A heaping bowl of cooked rice with a rounded top covered in saran wrap should be prepared for the Sensei along with a pair of black copsticks.  Do not place the chopsticks into the rice.  This is done by the Sensei during the ceremony.

At the time of the Makuragyo, sensei will make arrangements for a funeral arrangement meeting. This meeting is with Sensei and the Temple’s Funeral Committee. This is a group that may consist of the lay leaders of the temple, board members who will help with setting up the funeral.


Otsuya (lit. “through the night”)

The Otsuya observance finds its most equivalent western observance in the wake service. It is during the Otsuya service that family and friends gather together to share the Dharma and share with each other their recollections of the deceased, while enjoying sake and food prepared by the chief mourner. In the traditional Nichiren Shu tradition, the family stays up all night with the deceased keeping incense lit and chanting the sutra for them.   This comes from traditions formed during the time of our founder.  When the Buddha died, his followers stayed with his body, discussing his teachings late into the morning. It is now tradition for the family to stay by the coffin all night reflecting on the life of the dead.  If the body has been taken to the funeral home a picture is placed on the Butusdan in place of the body(Buddhist Altar) with a black ribbon, making the family see the face of the deceased.  If the body remains at the home a small dirk (tanto) is placed on the chest.  The body is placed with its head towards the north.  This knife should defend her or him from the evil spirits.  It is often during this time that funeral planning occurs.


When a death occurs, if the family has a Shinto shrine it is closed and covered with white paper to keep out the impure spirits of the dead, a custom called kamidana-fūji (神棚封じ).

During the Otsuya- the funeral should be set about two days after the Otsuya wake, please check with your priest on the appropriate day for this event to take place.  Dates and arrangements of a funeral are often decided with special consideration for the Buddhist calendar.  Funerals can be held on any day except tomobiki (“friend pulling days”) which are usually preferred for weddings.

The family should prepare and delegate the preparations for offerings for the altar at the Temple or funeral home. If possible please bring white manju. For the fruit please bring enough for two trays. The usual amount is four types of fruit, six pieces of each type of fruit.

It is common etiquette to acknowledge all the acts of kindness, words of sympathy and personal services received during bereavement and the funeral. The actual amount and method of your expression of gratitude depend largely upon your personal feelings. You may ask other temple members or the funeral committee on appropriate amounts or refer to the information given to you by your priest.

1. Temple (monetary)

2. Sensei (monetary)

*The next steps of the funeral and memorial services will be explained by the Sensei during the meeting.

Enkyoji Buddhist Network