Sunday, March 3, 2024

Yodohime Shrine Shimenawa & Yamodo Festival


When I saw the shimenawa on the torii to Yodohime Shrine I knew it was unusual, but only when I did the research for this post did I realize its significance. The very small, local shrine lies at the border of Matsubara and Yamine, in the mountains north of Sasebo, Nagasaki. The shrine was established in the first years of the 11th century and enshrines Toyotamahime, the grandmother of the mythical first emperor Jimmu who features in the Hyuga Myth Cycle.

The Yamodo Matsuri takes place every new year, now set as the end of January, and culminates in the shimenawa being replaced with a new one, made by the parishioners out of rice straw from the previous harvest. Yamodo is derived from yama udo which means mountain man and refers to a kind of marebito, an idea of an outsider as a god from another world. In this case it refers to the Yamanokami that descends from the mountains in the Spring to become the Tanokami, god of the rice paddies, during the summer and then returns to the mountains after the harvest.

In the Yamodo festival 2 young men, one from each village, whose parents are still living and healthy, undergo various purifications and then act as the yama udo in various ways during the festival. The festival is now registered as an Intangible Cultural property of the prefecture.

There is a 23-minute video on the matsuri, in Japanese, on YouTube, if you are interested. The previous post was on Saifukuji Temple and its cave.


Post a Comment