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New Year’s Ceremony – 108 Knocks on the Bell

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In Japanese culture, instead of the expected fireworks, what we hear are the 108 chimes of the Buddhist Temple ritual ¨Joya no Kane¨.

Every year on December 31st, the countdown long awaited by the Japanese is the 108 rings of the bell. For the Japanese people, this ritual celebrates the arrival of the New Year.

In the Temples of Japan, the traditional ceremony of 108 Rings of the Bell is held. A ritual of gratitude, meditation and the ringing of the Great Bonshô Bell 108 times.

  • The 108 chimes

According to Buddhist beliefs, the 108 chimes represent man’s 108 sins or worldly desires, and the ringing of the bell serves to drive away these desires, so that man can enter the new year purified.

They refer to the six senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch and consciousness), multiplied by three reactions (positive, negative or indifferent), which gives a total of 18 desires. Each of these desires can be linked to or separate from pleasure, so multiply by 2, giving a total of 36 desires.

Each of these desires can manifest itself in the past, present or future, so multiply 36 by 3, giving the result 108. This number is very common in Indian religious beliefs, so when Buddhism arrived in Japan (around 400 BC ), this number also became part of several Buddhist traditions.

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