Placer Buddhist Church

3192 Boyington Road                                                        P.O.Box 349             <-- New Mailing AddressPenryn, CA. 95663(916) 652-6139

Upcoming events: 

PBC Obon - August 3

PBC 57th Annual Food Bazaar - September 28-29

A Dharma Message by Rev. Yuki Sugahara

July 2024

What Ministers are Wearing? - Part 3 –


If my memory is correct, I wrote two articles on the clothes which ministers wear. The first one was about “Shiki-e (Colored Robe),” and the second one was about “Fuho (robe for ordinary use)” and “Koku-e (black robe).” It has been a while, but I would like to write about “Gojo Gesa (five-clothed Kesa)” this month.


Kesa (J)/Jiasha (C) is a Chinese transliteration of a Sanskrit word “Kasaya.” It means “dull yellow” and you can imagine the color of the robes of the Theravada monks. I believe it is the traditional color of the robes.


According to the collections of the precepts, the monks can only possess three robes: 1. Sanghati: A robe sewn with nine or twenty-five clothes. Wear this robe on official occasions. 2. Uttarasanga: A robe sewn with seven clothes. Wear this robe for daily events. 3. Antaravasaka: A robe sewn with five clothes. Wear this robe under Uttarasanga, but on the daily activities and when one goes to bed, the monk can just wear this robe. I might have written this in the past articles, but a monk of the Theravada tradition is allowed to possess only these three robes. If a monk violates this precept, the monk needs to confess the violation of the precept in front of the Sangha and discard the surplus robes.


On the other hand, Mahayana Buddhism had spread through the cold climate countries compared to Theravada Buddhism, so monks wore more robes, and since Buddhism was welcomed by many emperors in China, monks started to wear fancy robes.


There are no regulations or rules for Jodo Shinshu priests on how many robes we can possess. Ministers purchase the robes through the donation from the members, so I feel that wearing the nice-looking robes is one of the ways to show my appreciation to the Sangha members for their kind donations.


Anyway, “Gojo Gesa (Five-clothed Robe)” is, just as the name expresses, the robe sewn with five cloths. It is wide and long (see Picture 1 on next page). Unlike Theravada’s Antaravasaka (five-clothed robe), we wear this robe around the body. Strictly saying, ministers should wear “Koku-ye (black robe)” and “Gojo Gesa” when we perform a service in altar area.


Picture 2 is the Gojo Gesa, which all the ministers wear when they participate in Ango Summer Lectures at Hongwanji. If you happen to be in Kyoto around July 18 - 31, please go to Nishi Hongwanji; you might see a lot of ministers wearing this Gojo Gesa.


Picture 3 is all the Gojo Gesa I have. The left one was purchased and gifted by Betsuin. This is Rimban Gojo Gesa. But, Hawaii ministers wear this Gojo Gesa as their uniformed Gojo Gesa. In olden days, it was a life-risking task to go abroad to share the teaching. The ministers had no guarantee of seeing their families and mother land again. So, Hongwanji gifted the robes for Rimban to the ministers who are going overseas. This is what I heard from ministers from Hawaii. I wear this Gojo on special occasions, including the church sponsored memorial services.


The middle one was purchased and gifted by the BCA. This is the pattern of Gojo Gesa we use for BCA ministers, but actually this is the pattern for accession ceremony for Shonyo Shonin (Kosho Otani). Shonyo Shonin was the one who came to the U.S. to cheer up and encourage members along with his wife Yoshiko Otani. I see many old-time members received Buddhist Name from him. I assume this spiritual connection with Shonyo Shonin made BCA ministers wear this Gojo Gesa as a uniform. I wear this Gojo when BCA ministers get together.


The right Gojo is Gojo Gesa I purchased with donations. I just liked the pattern and I wear this Gojo Gesa on regular occasions.


I will avoid mentioning the price here, but it is not cheap… but through the generous donations of the Sangha, ministers can wear beautiful robes to conduct the service to appreciate Buddhas, Shinran Shonin, teachers from the past, and our predecessors. So I cannot be lazy about practicing chanting, and studying the teaching. To enjoy the teaching of nembutsu together with everyone, I should make efforts to be better at chanting and sharing the teaching. This is the feeling I get every time I see the robes or wear the robes.


Rev. Yuki

(Picture 1)

(Picture 2)

(Picture 3)

The Placer Buddhist Church is located at 3192 Boyington Road in Penryn California, County of Placer.  It is located at the scenic base of the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains just off Interstate 80.  It is approximately half way between San Francisco and Reno, Nevada.

The Church was founded in 1902 in the small foothills town of Penryn.  The original church was near the center of town approximately 3 miles from its current location. The church moved to its current location in approximately 1963.  The church is well known in the community for the annual food bazaar which is always held on the 4th weekend of September.  The annual food bazaar started in 1964, just after the church moved to the new location.

The church supports many organizations such as the Placer Buddhist Women’s Association (PBWA), Young Buddhist Association (YBA), Sierra Bonsai Club, Dharma School, and Placer Ume Taiko Groups.  The church also holds various classes during the week including calligraphy, flower arranging, Tai Chi, Obon dancing and exercise classes.  See the church calendar for class times.