Buddha Day Celebration (Hanamatsuri)

Shakyamuni Buddha’s birthday is celebrated on April 8th. He was born 2500 years ago to King Suddhodana and Queen Maya in the garden of Lumbini which was located in Kapilavastu, a small kingdom in the Himalayan foothills. He was called Siddhartha and later, Shakyamuni Buddha. The “Flower Festival,” translated into Japanese as Hanamatsuri, is also known as Buddha Day. It has long been said that at the time of his birth Shakyamuni Buddha said, “Heaven, earth and I are all one person.” At each temple, a small pavilion called the hanamido, houses a statue of the baby Buddha pointing one index finger toward heaven and the other toward earth, and is decorated with flowers. During the Hanamatsuri ceremony, amacha, or sweet tea, is poured over the statue of the baby Buddha that stands under the hanamido. Sweet tea is an essential element of the Flower Festival. According to the legend, two Dragon Kings rained warm and cool sweet water from heaven to bathe the baby Buddha.