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A ceremony held every year to commemorate Buddha's birthday, April 8th, where a small statue of Buddha is sprinkled with scented water or hydrangea tea. The ceremony recreates a legend that when the Buddha was born he was sprinkled with perfume by the dragon god (ryuuou ). A small shrine, known as the hanamidou is set up and decorated with flowers. A small image of the Buddha in the form of a child as he appeared at birth (tanjoubutsu ; see below), is placed on a wide, shallow metal bowl, known as the kanbutsu-ban . The statue of Buddha has the right hand held up, and the left hand pointing down, depicting the moment when Buddha took seven steps forward and pronounced the words “Tenjou tenga yuiga dokuson “ (I alone am honored in heaven and on earth). Visitors to the temple where the ceremony is performed use a small ladle to sprinkle scented water over the top of the statue. The kanbutsu-e ceremony was brought to Japan from China, and the first recorded celebration in Japan was at Gankouji in Nara in 606. It spread to become a regular part of Buddhist tradition in other temples, the court, and among ordinary citizens. A famous Kanbutsu-ban decorated with hunting scenes is preserved in Nara's Toudaiji . It dates from the Nara Period and shows outstanding metal craftsmanship.


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