Showing posts with label iwami town. Show all posts
Showing posts with label iwami town. Show all posts

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Month of Little Sleep part 5


Wednesday night was Omoto Matsuri up in Nakano. Honoring the local kami Omotojin, these matsuris only take place, in the villages that still have them, every six or 7 years and are therefore more important than the annual matsuri. The event took place in the shrines kaguraden, but the villagers had built a huge temporary shelter out of bamboo and blue tarps to keep everyone protected from the weather....


As we arrived the Iwato dance was underway....


After that first dance it was time for rituals and ceremony to begin and first the representation of Omoto, a coiled rope snake with red tongue was brought in and set on the temporary altar. Later the snake will be uncoiled and used in some shamanic rituals, and next day he will be taken to a sacred tree and wrapped around its base.


Next three priests conducted a purification of the space that culminated with the scattering of rice grains over the space and the audience/congregation.....


The other priests now entered, 7 in total, and they were all purified with the Onusa. The priests had come from all over the district. Most shrines do not have a resident priest, and the few priests that do live in the countryside are responsible for a large number of shrines. For Omoto rituals there may be as many as ten priests who take part.


next came the lengthy ritual of placing the offerings on the altar. Mostly shinsen, food offerings, but also other types known as heihaku. Compared to a more usual shrine ceremony, the number of offerings was quite large as befitting the importance of Omoto.


Next a series of norito were read to Omoto, after which the offerings were removed, rather more quickly than they were placed, and then Omoto was placed above the tengai to "observe" the nights dances and the altar dismantled so the dancing could continue.....

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Spiritual Pest Control. (Mushiokuriodori)

Nowadays Japanese farmers rely heavily on chemical pesticides on their crops, but before such things were available they turned to the world of the spirits for help. Performed now as a folk dance, Mushiokuri Odori, sending away the insects dance, was a religious ritual performed in many parts of the country.


Ancient Japanese religion concerned itself a lot with pollution and purification. Infestations of insects were considered a form of pollution caused to a certain extent by the "sins" of the villagers.


Wearing summer yukata, and accompanied by flute, the drummer dancers make their way around the village stopping and performing the songs.


Accompanying the procession is a straw effigy, nowadays carried in a small pick-up. He represents Saito Sanemori, a samurai who was killed and unceremoniously dragged across a rice paddy by his horse. He represents another aspect of ancient Japanese religious tradition, that of the "angry ghost".


The straw doll is a form of scapegoat. The "sins" of the villagers are collected by it, and after the rituals it is burned or cast into a river, both forms of purification.