Shomyo (chorus of Buddhist hymns)    2014/09/14

Yesterday I went to National Theater to enjoy the chorus by priests of Kyoto Chionin which is famous as an leading temple of Jodo sect of Buddhism.

The chorus was chanted by 40 priests and supported by 8 priests who were in charge of traditional and special musical instruments.

It is similar to Gospel music and contents are from Buddhism teaching.

Buddhism originated in India and reached to Japan through china in around 5-6th century.  There was severe battles and hot arguments whether the religion from abroad should have been accepted or not between pro-Buddhism groups and pro-Shinto groups, Japanese indigenous religion. However Japan has been originally the nation of polytheism and Buddhism has been gradually harmonized in Japanese high society and theory.

Then Buddhism began to prevail into ordinary people from around 13th century, Kamakura period. Shomyo is simple, vigorous and rhythmical chorus which has the power to encourage people and it must have played the key role to make Buddhism popular among ordinary people.


After various social changes during over 1000 years history, Shomyo remains attractive and rhythmical and still maintains the power to awaken packed audiences.