Showing posts with label uzume. Show all posts
Showing posts with label uzume. Show all posts

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Uzume Mask

Uzume Mask

It has been a very long time since I finished any masks, but the last few weeks I have been hard at it. Most of my older blog posts that featured my masks no longer have photos as they were stored on a site I no longer use, so overthe next weeks I will be posting photos of my new masks.

This one is one of the smallest and is the kami Uzume, the female whose dance in front of the cave was instrumental in luring Amaterasu out. The dance is credited with being the mythological origin of kagura.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Izumoji Sainokami Shrine


The shrine is tucked away a little to the west of Shimogamo Shrine, though it was originally located on the bank of the Kamo River nearby.


The name refers to the old "road" to Izumo, and sainokami is a later name of dosojin, the phallic stones at roadsides and crossroads that were the site of spirit-pacification rites. Plagues travelled along the roads and were experienced as demons, so these sites were to protect from such demons.


The dosojin became associated with Sarutahiko, and he is the main kami enshrined here. Also enshrined is Uzume, his wife, Ninigi, who Sarutahiko guided down to earth, Okuninushi and Kotoshironushi, the Izumo kami, and several others.


Sarutahiko took on the visage of a monkey, hence the image on the numerous ema.

It is said that in olden days women who wanted a divorce would come here to pray.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Walk to Suga


The weather during May remained unseasonably cool, so I talk advantage and went on another exploratory walk. I started in Nogi, now little more than a suburb of Matsue. A cookie-cutter town of convenience stores, pachinko parlors, and drab, utilitarian buildings.

My route was to roughly follow Route 24 up the Inbe River and over into the watershed of the Hi River around Suga.


After about 30 minutes I was in the foothills on narrow lanes with mostly older, more traditional houses. The person in this house is obviously really into bonsai!

As usual I stopped in at all the shrines along the way.


In the village of Noshira I found this that looks like a shrine, but is in fact a "kyo", translated as "church". Its a branch of Izumo Yashirokyo, a religion started by the then head priest of Izumo Taisha in the late 19th Century when the state basically told priests to stop preaching or dealing with "religious" matters. If they wanted to deal with religious issues they should found their own churches. The state had appropriated the Torii symbol, so only "shinto" shrines could have a torii, so many of the shinto-based Kyo simply use a simple gate with one crosspiece.


Also in Noshira I found an interesting shrine with a huge mask of Uzume or Otafuku. As Uzume is one of the kami enshrined here it is most likely her.


And then, paydirt!!!!! I found 2 examples of something I search for and hope to find on my backcountry explorations, a pair of Phalli!

I chatted for a while with a lady visiting the shrine, but she professed to not know anything about them, which may be true, but its more likely that she didn't want to talk about them with a foreigner.

I have an extensive collection of photos from small fertility shrines I've visited, but I've hesitated to post any as about half the visitors to this blog are from a certain North American country wherein many citizens react strangely to such topics. They either get offended and indignant, or they react like giggling Elementary schoolgirls.

Anyway, to have found these two really made my day and my steps had more spring to them.....


Route 24 is a fairly busy, 2 -lane road, that has been straightened a lot and bypasses many smaller settlements. I chose to walk the old sections of road that snake along the river. Its a longer walk, but there is almost no traffic, often the things to be discovered are in the small villages, and I'm more likely to meet friendly people. Sure enough I soon came upon a small unmarked shrine to Kojin with the rope serpent wrapped around the base of a tree. It looked like nobody had visited the shrine in a few years.


There were a lot of snakes of the non-rope variety out and about. This one was a bit over a meter in length. No idea what species it was, though if it was a 4-lined Rat snake I wouldnt be surprised.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

October means Matsuri. Matsuri means Kagura.

At least it does in my neck of the woods.


We decided to head to the matsuri at Imada. Imada, like my village, is not a place you pass through on the way to somewhere. It's out of the way, small, and quiet.

It was a nice warm evening, and the full moon shone through the mantles of mist that lay upon the mountains around the shrine.


As soon as we arrived 2 cold beers were pressed into our hands. Later we were given steaming bowls of oden and more beer. I like village matsuri's :)


The atmosphere was nice and relaxed and there was plenty of space in the shrine to seit. Outside local people had octopus balls, yakitori, and oden cooking. Lots of kids running around as this is one of the few nights of the year they get to stay up all night.


We spent a good hour chatting with Mr. Yamanaka, a local councillor and a trove of information on local history. Several times he grovelled on the floor to show just how low in the social hierarchy Imada was. He seemed curiously proud of how the local people were historically the bottom rung of the lowest class. He also was able to fill me in with some details of a local shinwa. He was very interested in reintroducing the old ways of growing rice and food, in symbiotic relationship with animals, wild and domestic.

The kagura was good. Imada plays the older 6-beat style, and Mr. Yamanaka bemoaned the loss of traditions in the newer more popular 8 beat kagura.The group only perform once a year, but played consientiously.

This short video is from the Iwato dance and Uzume is dancing to entice Amaterasu out of the cave.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

2009 Ichiyama Kids kagura festival

We went over to Ichiyama last night for the annual Kids Kagura Festival. Each year there are fewer and fewer kids performing. Partly thats due to the village losing population to the cities, but a friend suggested that because Ichiyama still dances the older, slower 6-beat style that some kids from the village dance with other groups that dance the more exciting 8-beat. I think it is due to the commitments that Japanese kids have to their school clubs and brutal exam system. Japanese kids get very little free time nowadays.


The video is from the Iwato dance. Koyane, mythical ancestor of the Nakatomi, who became the Fujiwara, and Futotama, mythical ancestor of the Imbe Clan, perform rituals, unsuccessfully, to entice Amaterasu out of the cave.


Uzume's dance, considered to be the mythical origin of all kagura, is successful in enticing the hidden sun out of her cave.


The arrival of the demon,... here in the Hachiman dance, is always fun!


As usual we had a very enjoyable time.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Otafuku mask


The Otafuku mask doesn't appear in any Iwami kagura dances that I know of, but it is worn by the female half of a kyogen duo. Otafuku is commonly known as the "goddess of mirth", and also goes by the name of Okame. It is believed that the mask is developed from the Uzume mask. The motif of the Otafuku mask is a common design found all over the place, but not often talked about is the sexual side of her nature.


I found this pair of huge masks gracing the entrance to a large shrine in Shikoku. I have seen her paired with a tengu before, and I've read about a performance at a fertility shrine in Asuka involving a tengu and an otafuku that is overtly sexual. The tengu/red demon most probably is derived from Uzume's husband, Sarutahiko, a giant being that has a very large nose.


My favorite derivation of the Otafuku mask though is this little sculpture I found at a fertility shrine in Yamaguchi.

Iwami Kagura Mask index

Monday, November 24, 2008

Uzume mask


This is the smallest of all the Iwami Kagura masks and is the goddess Uzume. In the most well-known of the ancient Japanese myths, Iwato, it is she who was responsible for getting Amaterasu out of the cave and so bringing light back to the world. She performed a type of shamanic dance, and at the end she pulled down her skirt and exposed her genitals. The cheers of the gathered kami piqued Amaterasu's curiosity so she peeked out of the cave and was pulled out by Tajikarao. This dance is considered to be the mythological origin of kagura.


The kagura dance of Iwato doesn't include the striptease, and is usually a fairly sedate and stylized dance, but I did see one performance wherein Uzume danced frenetically around the stage with sacred sakaki branches and hinted at the shamanic nature of original kagura.