“What the Ministers Are Wearing”
Reverend Yuki Sugahara, Rinban

Minister's Blog

May 2023

“Temple relies on the generosities of the sangha.”

This was the announcement at the Oregon Buddhist Temple which was often made at the end of the service. Through donations, ministers are able to purchase Buddhist-related items, such as robes, books to study (to make dharma talks more interesting!), and so on.

So, I would like to introduce the attire of the ministers in the newsletter over a span of a few months.

Last month at Hanamatsuri service, I wore a new robe for the first time which was purchased through donations. The purple-colored robe is called Shiki-e, which literally means “colored robe.” There are various colors of shiki-e, so if you would like to see it, you should come to the special services!

There are rules regarding the attire of the minister at the services. The robes in general are called hō-e, which literally means “dharma clothes.”

The black robe with long sleeves is called koku-e (black robe) and along with shiki-e, they are called koromo (robe). Most of the time, these koromo are worn at the special services with gojo-gesa (a bigger o-kesa compared to wagesa. I will introduce them in the future).

Then, we see the black robe which ministers often wear. That is called fuhō. The Chinese character “袍 hō” means “a long gown, robe, or cloak” and it is worn on daily basis. According to the Hongwanji’s rules regarding the attire, the appropriate attire to sit in the onaijin/altar area is koromo, but overseas districts have adjusted ourselves to the simple attire and we wear fuhō for the regular services.

There is variation of the colors of fuhō too. I have a light green one as well as a black one. There are also light gray and deep red. There is a certain time of the year when Japanese people change the clothing from the winter to summer one and vice versa. That is June 1 and October 1. But, because of the differences in the climate, this is now just a guideline for changing the clothing for the BCA temples’ ministers.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Gassho