Showing posts with label omoto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label omoto. Show all posts

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Month of Little Sleep part 10


On Sunday 21st October we went to the Omoto Matsuri up in the small settlement of Yudani. It is a small settlement, getting smaller. Only 34 households remain and they are mostly old folks...... there are no kids. The Omoto Matsuris only occur every 7 years and are expensive affairs and only 34 families are left to fund it. It ended up being a fantastic night with all the hallmarks of a true matsuri.... friendliness, generosity, inebriation, humor etc.... I shot over a thousand photos but choose just a handful.....


After the initial rituals and ceremonies the first kagura was Shihogatame, a dance unique to Omoto Kagura but which is similar to Kamimukae in regular Iwami kagura.


At a usual ceremony there may be half a dozen to a dozen offerings placed on the altar, but given the importance of Omoto rituals there will be anything from 30 to 50 different items....


Possibly my favorite Omoto kagura "dance" is Tengai, unique to Omoto. I have seen it performed by priests and also by kagura dancers, but in my experience it is the priests who put on a more dynamic dance.....


The Ebisu dance was unique, for me at least, in several respects. usually Ebisu dances alone, or sometimes with Daikoku, and its usually just a pantomime with him throwing candy to the crowd and then catching a Sea Bream. This was the "complete" Ebisu dance with the first part danced by a dancer as a priest, then with Ebisu, and then finally the "usual" Ebisu dance. usually the fish caught by Ebisu is made out of paper, but here they used the actual fish that had been on the altar as offering to Omoto.


At 6am the final ritual/dance took place and this is where possession, kamigakari, will take place, if it take place. The rope snake representing Omoto is swung violently backwards and forwards by the priests. To the rear you can see the villager who had been designated to be the recipient of possession. kamigakari did not occur.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Month of Little Sleep part 6


After the round of ceremonies at Nakano Omoto Matsuri it was time for more dancing and first up was some very young kids dancing Hachiman.....


Bothe the 2 heroes and the 2 demons were very young kids and they did a really great job...


Next up a couple of older kids danced Shoki...


Then to the other end of the age scale.... an elderly gentleman danced the first part of Yachimata. This was the first time I have seen this dance and the only reference I can find to it says it is danced by Uzume and Sarutahiko. Yachimata is the crossroads between the High Plain of Heaven and Japan and it is here that Ninigi, Amaterasu's grandson, and his entourage meet Sarutahiko on their derscent from heaven to begin their rule of Japan. This old gentleman is obviously not Uzumne, so maybe he is Ninigi.....


The second part of the dance belongs to Sarutahiko....


A break from the theatrical kagura brings us to the Four Swords dance. I have read that originally this dance and Kenmai were once the same dance but then split into 2 separate parts.


The dance increases in tempo and excitement and the audience is well aware when difficult, acrobatic sections have been performed well.....

It was around 2am and there was lots more to come but I was suffering from a bad cold so took my leave early.....

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.....

Friday, May 29, 2009

Yokai Gallery 3

This is the third post on the yokai sculptures on the Mizuki Shigeru Road. Details in Yokai Gallery 1

Salaryman Yamada is not, as far as I can tell, a yokai, but he is a character in Mizuki Shigeru's work, and is based on a friend of his.

Omotogami is another name for Omotojin, also known as Kojin in neighboring Izumo. I was surprised to see it classified as a yokai as it is in fact a common kami in this part of the world. It is often known as an aragami, which is usuually translated as "rough deity", but I prefer the translation "turbulent deity", as it is a force of nature and quite capable of causing damage. More posts on Omoto here

These are Shigeru's creation, Daruma and guts, and are based on the well-known Daruma, who was the Bodhidharma who brought Zen (Chan in Chinese) from India to China. In his common form he has no arms or legs as they have atrophied from years of sitting in meditation. In Shigeru's daruma, the little creatures are daruma's "guts", and if they are killed Daruma becomes weaker.

Uwan is an invisible Yokai that inhabits old houses and temples. His shouts can only be heard inside the building. In the Edo period artists began painting images of various "invisible" yokai.

Medama Oyaji is the father of Kitaro, Shigeru's most famous character. A ghost reborn as just an eyeball, the character is known as Daddy Eyeball in the english version. He loves to stay clean and is often found bathing in a bowl.

Keukegen is completely covered in hair and is known to cause disease in humans. It inhabits damp, airless spaces, so the solution is to open windows and doors and allow some air circulation.

Yamabiko is a tree spirit living in the mountains that creates the echoes you hear in the mountains.

Syunobon is a yokai originally from Fukushima. When following you he appears human, but will startle you by reverting to his original form.

Aonyoubou (Blue Wife) is a form of Goryu, an "angry ghost". The most famous Goryu is Michizane Sugawara, commonly known as Tennjin. Humans killed for political reasons are particularly prone to be angry ghosts.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Shakechi Hachiman Shrine, Hamada


Shakechi Hachiman Shrine is tucked away in a quiet neighborhood just off Route 186, the main road south out of Hamada towards Hiroshima.

Like most shrine it is unmanned, but I was surprised to see a display case with ofuda and Omamori for sale, until I learnt that amulets from this shrine are known specificly for traffic safety, so when you get a new car this is the place to come for protection while driving.


There are quite a few secondary shrines within the grounds including this Inari Shrine.


There is an Ebisu shrine, and Omoto Shrine, and a Jyunisha, which I believe is a shrine to the 12. animals of the Chinese zodiac.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Omoto Shrine. Hamada


Tucked away up a little lane about 200 metres from the Otoshi shrine near the harbour in Hamada is a small Omoto Shrine.


I have been unable to find any information on the shrine. Omoto probably refers to the kami Omotojin, or it may refer to the fact that this shrine is built on the earliest shrine in the area before the Yamato Awashima Shrine. Or it may mean both things.


There is a small kagura-den and a small secondary shrine in the grounds, and I found these paper flowers which may have come from a Hana Mikoshi.


I love wandering around the alleys and narrow lanes of the old parts of Japanese towns. Without traffic it is easy to imagine how things were in earlier times.


Some people put plastic bottles of water around their doorways and houses in the belief that it will stop neighborhood cats from peeing there. I have no idea if there is any truth to this old-wives tale, but several houses in the area had put plastic flowers in the bottles which added a nice touch.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Omoto Kagura

It is believed that the root of Japanese religion, AND the root of Japanese performing arts lie in shamanic trance. Shamanic kagura was once commonplace throughout Japan, but was suppressed by the Meiji government. Only one place in Japan still has traditional shamanic kagura and that happens to be the place I live. I will be posting a lot more on this subject as it is the focus of a lot of my research and there is almost nothing on it in English.


The focus of Omoto kagura is Omoto, or Omotojin, the local land-based kami. Up in Izumo it is called Kojin, and like Omoto is represented as a rope snake. There are about 60 sites in my area that are considered Omoto shrines, though only a few have shrine buildings. Omoto kagura is practised at a handful of shrines, each shrine working to a 5, 6, or 7 year cycle, so some years there is no Omoto kagura , some years several performances.


Omoto kagura is performed by priests, and in fact all the priests of the county take part. As in the old days, the villagers perform theatrical kagura during the intervals between the priests various dances.


The supreme importance of Omoto kagura to the area is indicated by the number of offerings on the altar. I counted more than 40 different things on the altar at this performance in Ichiyama, compared with less than a dozen at a normal ceremony.


The dance in the video is called Tsunanuki (rope-pulling) and is probably the most well known of the various dances. If an Omoto kagura is successful then someone will be possessed by Omotojin and will answer questions by the priests usually on such matters as the coming years agricultural cycle, upcoming dangers etc. The grandfather of a friend of mine became possessed by Omotojin on 5 different occasions in the last half of the 20th Century.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tsunozu Otoshi Shrine


Tsunozu's Otoshi shrine is in the old part of the village where a maze of alleys and narrow roads and traditional houses are still maintained. Most villages have old sections like this.

It's matsuri day, so the streets are lined with shimenawa, fresh bamboo, and shrine banners. The shimenawa lining the streets are to protect from evil as the kami will be passing by later in the matsuri procession.


At the shrine the flags are out in celebration of the matsuri, which occurs after the harvest in early November. As well as the main kami, Otoshi, there are secondary shrines to Inari (Otoshi's brother), Omoto, the local land kami, and konpira.


The mikoshi stand ready to be carried through the village later. While I was visiting the shrine the ceremonies were underway to transfer the kami into the mikoshi.


One of the 2 komainu (Korean Lions) flanking the steps up to the shrine. These are a fairly standard modern design.


Mr Kono is the priest of the shrine. He is also responsible for 9 other shrines in the area, but even so his duties do not pay enough to make a living. Buddhist priests have the VERY lucrative funeral business to pay their wages, but other than at major shrines, most Shinto priests must work at a regular job.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Sugio Hachimangu, Ichiki.


The village of Ichiki lies on the upper reaches of the Yato River at the base of a mountain that has a small ski resort on it. The Hachiman shrine lies in the centre of the village.

There are a lot of smaller, secondary shrines within the grounds of the main shrine. There is a shrine to Konpira, a very popular kami that originally came from India, a Kannayago Shrine, the kami of metal-workers, the ever popular Inari, the god of harvests (and geisha!), and an Omoto Shrine, the local land-kami. Every 6 years Omoto Kagura is performed here.


100 years ago most, if not all, of these secondary shrines would have been scattered about in small local communities. That was the essence of the traditional religion, local, mostly nature-based gods. The government began a program that closed half of the shrines in the country. They didn't close any Hachiman shrines, as the God of War was an important national kami, and that was the point. The small local shrines were all moved into a central "national" shrine, where national rituals and national kami would become the focus of peoples attention.

On my walks around the backcountry of Japan I have been pleasantly surprised to see a few local shrines being re-established.