Rakusu at formal occasions

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  • Myojin
    Member
    • Feb 2023
    • 233

    Rakusu at formal occasions

    In October my wife’s family will be holding a memorial service for their parents and other passed family members. I spoke to my mother in law and she said that it’s a suit and tie affair in the family temple (Jodo Shu), and that I should wear a Rakusu and bring a set of beads.

    Perhaps I’m overthinking it, but I’m wondering if our hand made Rakusu would be sufficiently smart for a formal affair? I love my Rakusu, especially its slightly ‘rustic’ appearance, but I can’t help thinking that it might not quite be up to dress standards, and I don’t want to give the wrong impression.

    Perhaps Jundo, or others who have had similar experiences can offer advice?

    Sattday,
    Gassho
    Myojin
    Last edited by Myojin; 04-14-2024, 01:25 AM.
  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39211

    #2
    Originally posted by Myojin
    In October my wife’s family will be holding a memorial service for their parents and other passed family members. I spoke to my mother in law and she said that it’s a suit and tie affair in the family temple (Jodo Shu), and that I should wear a Rakusu and bring a set of beads.

    Perhaps I’m overthinking it, but I’m wondering if our hand made Rakusu would be sufficiently smart for a formal affair? I love my Rakusu, especially its slightly ‘rustic’ appearance, but I can’t help thinking that it might not quite be up to dress standards, and I don’t want to give the wrong impression.

    Perhaps Jundo, or others who have had similar experiences can offer advice?

    Sattday,
    Gassho
    Myojin
    Hi Myojin,

    If it is acceptable and welcome by the family members, then the Rakusu is perfectly appropriate. For funerals and like events, what matters most is the relatives' feelings and acceptance. Always keep your in-laws happy!

    Of course, it is a Jodo Shu (Pure Land) temple, but I see no reason why any priest there would object either. And the Rakusu is the most "formal" garment in the universe!

    And even when and where some might object (e.g., with a less open minded family, in a work place, etc.) it is also fine just to wear the Rakusu invisibly, in one's heart alone. That can be done timelessly, 24/7/365.

    Gassho, Jundo

    stlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    Comment

    • Myojin
      Member
      • Feb 2023
      • 233

      #3
      Originally posted by Jundo
      Hi Myojin,

      If it is acceptable and welcome by the family members, then the Rakusu is perfectly appropriate. For funerals and like events, what matters most is the relatives' feelings and acceptance. Always keep your in-laws happy!

      Of course, it is a Jodo Shu (Pure Land) temple, but I see no reason why any priest there would object either. And the Rakusu is the most "formal" garment in the universe!

      And even when and where some might object (e.g., with a less open minded family, in a work place, etc.) it is also fine just to wear the Rakusu invisibly, in one's heart alone. That can be done timelessly, 24/7/365.

      Gassho, Jundo

      stlah
      Agreed, keeping the in-laws happy is priceless.

      My mother in law said to wear the rakusu, so that’s the correct course of action.

      I suppose my concern was largely secular, whether my hand made rakusu would be suitable for a formal occasion. I know that a lot of Soto shu places prefer the bought ones. At a Jodo shu temple perhaps it doesn’t matter.

      Gassho

      Myojin

      Comment

      • Jundo
        Treeleaf Founder and Priest
        • Apr 2006
        • 39211

        #4
        Originally posted by Myojin
        ... . I know that a lot of Soto shu places prefer the bought ones. At a Jodo shu temple perhaps it doesn’t matter.

        Gassho

        Myojin
        I doubt that any Soto-shu temple, even if they do not themselves follow the Nyoho-e sewing tradition, would object in any way to a lay visitor wearing a hand sewn Rakusu. I think that, quite the contrary, they would appreciate it.

        Gassho, Jundo

        stlah
        Last edited by Jundo; 04-14-2024, 02:13 AM.
        ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

        Comment

        • Jundo
          Treeleaf Founder and Priest
          • Apr 2006
          • 39211

          #5
          PS - The non-Nyoho-e Soto places would likely object, however, to a lay person wearing a full Kesa, which is only Nyoho-e tradition.
          ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

          Comment

          • Myojin
            Member
            • Feb 2023
            • 233

            #6
            Originally posted by Jundo
            PS - The non-Nyoho-e Soto places would likely object, however, to a lay person wearing a full Kesa, which is only Nyoho-e tradition.
            Naturally, I wasn’t even considering that. 🤣
            Gassho
            Myojin

            Comment

            • Byokan
              Treeleaf Unsui
              • Apr 2014
              • 4279

              #7
              Pardon me for chiming in, but I think the question was actually whether our hand-sewn Rakusu is too humble for a formal occasion, or whether Myojin should opt for a fancier, nicer looking store-bought Rakusu?

              My opinion, which may be wrong because I know absolutely nothing about these customs, is that your handmade Rakusu, with all your blood, sweat, and tears in it, with all your heart and dedicated practice in it, having been worn by the Buddha Himself (you) in full enlightenment, is every bit as good or better than any "dressier" one.

              But nothing wrong with wearing a fancy-schmancy one if you have one; Jundo has fancier kesa that he wears sometimes for special occasions.

              Gassho
              Byōkan
              sat + lah
              Last edited by Byokan; 04-14-2024, 04:10 PM.
              展道 渺寛 Tendō Byōkan
              Please take my words with a big grain of salt. I know nothing. Wisdom is only found in our whole-hearted practice together.

              Comment

              • Bion
                Treeleaf Unsui
                • Aug 2020
                • 3716

                #8
                Originally posted by Myojin
                In October my wife’s family will be holding a memorial service for their parents and other passed family members. I spoke to my mother in law and she said that it’s a suit and tie affair in the family temple (Jodo Shu), and that I should wear a Rakusu and bring a set of beads.

                Perhaps I’m overthinking it, but I’m wondering if our hand made Rakusu would be sufficiently smart for a formal affair? I love my Rakusu, especially its slightly ‘rustic’ appearance, but I can’t help thinking that it might not quite be up to dress standards, and I don’t want to give the wrong impression.

                Perhaps Jundo, or others who have had similar experiences can offer advice?

                Sattday,
                Gassho
                Myojin
                There is much respect for, though maybe not as much understanding of the Nyohoe robes. You’ll be just fine should you choose to wear it.

                Gassho
                Sat and lah
                "Stepping back with open hands, is thoroughly comprehending life and death. Immediately you can sparkle and respond to the world." - Hongzhi

                Comment

                • Jundo
                  Treeleaf Founder and Priest
                  • Apr 2006
                  • 39211

                  #9
                  But nothing wrong with wearing a fancy-schmancy one if you have one; Jundo has fancier kesa that he wears sometimes for special occasions.
                  For clarification, I have no fancier robes. You are thinking of the Funzo-e, rag based Nyoho-e that was gifted by Taigu. It is made of recycled fabric from Kimono resewn, and is Nyoho-e style.


                  I do have a standard Soto-shu style, but I rarely wear that. I have at Rohatsu recently for the first sitting. I would not consider that fancy either, just a standard Soto-shu style. It is similar to the one that Nishijima Roshi wears here ...


                  We generally avoid store bought Rakusu in this Sangha, although I have two that were gifted to me.

                  Gassho, Jundo
                  ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

                  Comment

                  • Byokan
                    Treeleaf Unsui
                    • Apr 2014
                    • 4279

                    #10
                    Originally posted by Jundo
                    For clarification, I have no fancier robes. You are thinking of the Funzo-e, rag based Nyoho-e that was gifted by Taigu. It is made of recycled fabric from Kimono resewn, and is Nyoho-e style.

                    [ATTACH=CONFIG]9381[/ATTACH]
                    Oh yes! That is what I was thinking of.

                    Gassho
                    Byōkan
                    sat + lah
                    展道 渺寛 Tendō Byōkan
                    Please take my words with a big grain of salt. I know nothing. Wisdom is only found in our whole-hearted practice together.

                    Comment

                    • Myojin
                      Member
                      • Feb 2023
                      • 233

                      #11
                      Originally posted by Byokan
                      Pardon me for chiming in, but I think the question was actually whether our hand-sewn Rakusu is too humble for a formal occasion, or whether Myojin should opt for a fancier, nicer looking store-bought Rakusu?

                      My opinion, which may be wrong because I know absolutely nothing about these customs, is that your handmade Rakusu, with all your blood, sweat, and tears in it, with all your heart and dedicated practice in it, having been worn by the Buddha Himself (you) in full enlightenment, is every bit as good or better than any "dressier" one.

                      But nothing wrong with wearing a fancy-schmancy one if you have one; Jundo has fancier kesa that he wears sometimes for special occasions.

                      Gassho
                      Byōkan
                      sat + lah
                      Hi Byokan

                      That is essentially the point, since most people won’t know a nyoho-e rakusu outside the tradition, the hand made tailoring may be what stands out to the uninitiated, although my mother in law does know that I sew robes.

                      Of course she said to wear a Rakusu, and I figured that Jundo, having been here 4 times longer than me, would probably have run into such situations.

                      I'm also very aware (and here is where concern creeps in), that formal occasions in Japan don’t leave much margin for error, so I felt clarification was important. Since a tailored Rakusu could be an option (albeit expensive and it wouldn’t have the calligraphy backing), it might have been better to err on the side of caution and have one for just such eventualities, which are at least annual occurrences.

                      Not wearing the physical Rakusu is also an option, but I feel that if I can I really should wear it, and really want to do so since the point of keeping and maintaining the robe is to wear it.

                      I’ll not overthink it anyway, if people say it’s fine then it’s fine.

                      Gassho
                      Myojin

                      Comment

                      • Byokan
                        Treeleaf Unsui
                        • Apr 2014
                        • 4279

                        #12
                        Hello again,

                        I just went and looked at your Rakusu on the sewing threads. It's gorgeous!! The stitching is very nice. Give it a light ironing if it needs, and I think you'll fit right in, anywhere.

                        Gassho
                        Byōkan
                        sat + lah
                        展道 渺寛 Tendō Byōkan
                        Please take my words with a big grain of salt. I know nothing. Wisdom is only found in our whole-hearted practice together.

                        Comment

                        • Shinshi
                          Treeleaf Unsui
                          • Jul 2010
                          • 3490

                          #13
                          Originally posted by Myojin
                          Hi Byokan

                          That is essentially the point, since most people won’t know a nyoho-e rakusu outside the tradition, the hand made tailoring may be what stands out to the uninitiated, although my mother in law does know that I sew robes.

                          Of course she said to wear a Rakusu, and I figured that Jundo, having been here 4 times longer than me, would probably have run into such situations.

                          I'm also very aware (and here is where concern creeps in), that formal occasions in Japan don’t leave much margin for error, so I felt clarification was important. Since a tailored Rakusu could be an option (albeit expensive and it wouldn’t have the calligraphy backing), it might have been better to err on the side of caution and have one for just such eventualities, which are at least annual occurrences.

                          Not wearing the physical Rakusu is also an option, but I feel that if I can I really should wear it, and really want to do so since the point of keeping and maintaining the robe is to wear it.

                          I’ll not overthink it anyway, if people say it’s fine then it’s fine.

                          Gassho
                          Myojin
                          Think about it this way. If being seen in a hand sewn rakusu was good enough for Kodo Sawaki, then you probably shouldn't worry about it.

                          Gassho,

                          Shinshi
                          空道 心志 Kudo Shinshi
                          I am just a priest-in-training, any resemblance between what I post and actual teachings is purely coincidental.
                          E84I - JAJ

                          Comment

                          • Myojin
                            Member
                            • Feb 2023
                            • 233

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Shinshi
                            Think about it this way. If being seen in a hand sewn rakusu was good enough for Kodo Sawaki, then you probably shouldn't worry about it.

                            Gassho,

                            Shinshi
                            To be honest it’s really not about me. I really like the hand sewn rakusu, the principles behind it really resonate and I hope to sew more in future.

                            It’s much more about the social aspect of giving due respect to propriety at a formal event honouring my wife and sons ancestors, and not scandalizing the family in the process, given the contrast between suits and ties and the clearly hand made rakusu.

                            Still, I’m leaning in the direction of simply giving the rakusu an iron and thinking no more of it since I asked and the response was positive.

                            Gassho
                            Myojin
                            Last edited by Myojin; 04-14-2024, 11:42 PM.

                            Comment

                            • Byokan
                              Treeleaf Unsui
                              • Apr 2014
                              • 4279

                              #15
                              One thing I know is that I know nothing about the formal customs there. I understand the anxiety and not wanting to appear disrespectful. Luckily it's not some complicated thing you have to do, or perform, it's just what you're wearing, so I think you'll be fine. When navigating in unfamiliar social terrain, it's exactly your attitude of careful respect that will get you through!

                              Social advice from a socially inept bumbler. Take it for what it's worth! $00.02

                              Gassho
                              Byōkan
                              sat + lah

                              p.s.
                              Plan B: button up your jacket and hide everything.
                              Last edited by Byokan; 04-15-2024, 12:05 AM.
                              展道 渺寛 Tendō Byōkan
                              Please take my words with a big grain of salt. I know nothing. Wisdom is only found in our whole-hearted practice together.

                              Comment

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