The word Rohatsu is Japanese and literally means "8th Day of the 12th Month" which commemorates the day which the historical Buddha realized enlightenment under a Bodhi tree.
Rohatsu brings us an opportunity to practice the truth embedded in this story. In many Zen traditions the first eight days of December are marked as a special period for celebrating or in intensive practice. Buddha sat, with Mara tempting and harassing him, for seven days and seven nights of increasing realizations. On the morning of the eighth day he looked up at the brightest morning star (Venus) and, recognizing the interconnected nature of all beings, realized enlightenment.
This intensive style of practice was inspired by Kodo Sawaki, one of Kobun's teachers. As founder and abbott of Antaiji monastery, Sawaki shaped Antaiji to be a place where Zen is practiced without any additions or modifications. He wanted zazen (shikantaza) to be practiced solely for the purpose of zazen, without any gaining idea.
Upon Sawaki-Roshi's death in December 1965, Kosho Uchimaya, his disciple, declared 49 days of intensive sesshin instead of the traditional ritual and services. This was in honor of Kodo Sawaki Roshi and his zazen tradition, now known as Antaiji-style sesshin.
For more information about Antaiji-style and Kodo Sawaki:
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