Adults & Children in a Great Roar! New Year’s Ogre Chase at Prince Shotoku’s Kakurinji Temple!

Thump, thump, thump, thump…
Four cute little ogres strike the rhythm by tapping the floor with long canes. In time with the rhythm, a red and a blue ogre appear from the shadows of Buddha, and the main temple is immediately filled with excitement.



At Kakurinji temple, which is located in Kakogawa city, Hyogo prefecture, shushoe has been performed continuously since the Heian era. On this day, in order to repent bad deeds, in continuation for the keka memorial service (confessing one’s sins), an ogre chase is performed by the members of a preservation committee. Shushoe is a Buddhist ceremony held during New Year with the purpose of repenting for the previous year and praying for peace in the coming year.


Sometimes jumping among the temple visitors and causing a ruckus, the ogres dance while circling around the Buddha statue…



The red ogre swings its axe around fiercely, it’s completely terrifying. Eeeek! So this is what the expression of a real ogre looks like.
On the other hand, the blue ogre with the droopy eyes is apparently the sullen, silent type even though it’s holding a spear. The impact of the red ogre is so strong that the face of the blue ogre appears kind.

There is only one way to drive away the ogres – shout “Doiyasho!” as loudly as possible!  Apparently, the stronger the “Do” the more ‘mean’ the meaning. The energetic shouts of children echo around.


The grownups are… too busy taking pictures to falter even at the sight of the red ogre.

After circling around 6, 7, 8 times, the ogres finally grow tired and begin to return from whence they came! “Doiyasho!” “Doiyasho!” Thank goodness, it appears that the ogres were finally reformed by the power of Buddha.
Also known as “Harima’s Horyuji”, Kakurinji is a temple of the Buddhist Tendai sect that is said to be the lineage established by Prince Shotoku. The main hall and the Taishido have been designated as national treasures of Japan.


After chasing away the ogres, the chief priest and members of the ogre chase preservation committee throw rice cakes to the visitors.

The visitors stretch their arms desperately… The splendid bell tower shown behind the visitors in the photograph below has been designated as an important cultural property.


When returning home, I lined up and received a stamp on my forehead. May this year pass without meeting any ogres!

Access to Kakurinji Temple:
By Train & Bus: Around 8 minutes by “Kako bus” from JR Kakogawa station (the bus leaves from stop number 3 in front the station).
By Train & on Foot:  Around a 25-minute walk south-west from JR Kakogawa station.
By Car: 10 minutes from Kakogawa by-pass, Kakogawa ramp. 30 minutes from Sanyou expressway, Miki-Ono interchange. (Kakurinji park toll-free parking area available, room for 30 cars.)

Shushoe (ogre chase):

Details: http://kako-navi.jp/event/event/january/1033.html (Japanese)
Date & Time: January 8th every year from around 1 PM
Fee: No entrance fee on this day

Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Madoka Hori




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Written by

Madoka Hori

Madoka Hori

Madoka Hori / Photo-writer Entrepreneurial translator/writer living in Hyogo. As a licensed English tour guide, she occasionally takes tourists to beautiful destinations such as Kobe, Himeji, Okayama, Kyoto, and Osaka and her clients have never got lost so far. On Setouchi Finder, as one of the original team members, she enjoys taking photos and sharing her favorite hidden gems. Private Photo Blog http://riderv328.tumblr.com Twitter https://twitter.com/Riderv328


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