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What is shakyo?

Are you looking for a relaxing experience to do during your stay in Japan? Do you want to reconnect with yourself? Look no further, we have the perfect activity for you: shakyo.

What is shakyo?

Shakyo (写 経) literally means “to copy the sutras”. It is thus an activity practiced to copy by hand the Buddhist scriptures.

The practice of shakyo appears in Japan in the 7th century and quickly became very popular. It was originally practiced to disseminate Buddhist scriptures and spread this religion. But, little by little, it started to be practiced out of religious beliefs to become an activity allowing anyone to find its inner peace. We now practice it to purify ourselves both physically and mentally.

Experience shakyo
Experience shakyo

How to practice shakyo?

The sutra most used in the practice of shakyo is called the “Hannya Shinkyo” or in English the Heart Sutra. It is often chosen because it is one of the simplest and shortest sutra.

If you’ve never practiced Japanese, don’t worry. You don’t need to read or understand it to enjoy this activity. You will be given a thin piece of paper under which you will place the sutra. Then, you will only have to draw the lines, following the sutra under your paper. Take advantage of this moment to relax, take your time. More than copying the scriptures nicely, it is the reflection on yourself that is the most important.

Experience shakyo
Axel practicing shakyo

After you have copied the sutra, write on your sheet a wish you want to come true, along with your name and the date. Then, you should go lay your work in front of the Buddha altar.

Where to practice in Kamakura?

If you are in Kamakura, you can experience shakyo at Hokaiji Temple. Built in 1335, this beautiful little temple belongs to the Tendai Buddist sect. It is not far from the famous Hachimangu Shrine and the shopping street, making it a very convenient stopover. So you should definitely add it to the places to visit in Kamakura. There, you can ask to practice shakyo.

Inside Hokaiji Temple

To assist you in your daily life, hoping that it brings you peace and joy, we have included in our Kamakura Box a tote bag illustrated with a sutra.

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