Settling of the soul ritual
(chinkonsai 鎮魂祭)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Early Winter
***** Category: Observance


tama shizume matsuri 鎮魂祭 (たましずめまつり)
festival of the pacification of the souls
ritual to console the spirit of the dead
..... chinkonsai, chinkon sai 鎮魂祭(ちんこんさい)

Performed on the day of the tiger in the eleventh lunar month.
Nowadays one day before the harvest ceremonies (niinamesai).

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Namiki Kazuko writes:

"Settling of the soul ritual."
A ritual of the ancient and medieval eras. Also called "mitama furi," "mitama shizume," "ō-mitama furi," "tama shizume no matsuri." According to the Explanations of the Prescriptions (Ryō no gige), the rite is intended to "call back" and "pacify" a soul that is trying to depart from someone’s body.

The state ceremony (in other words the ceremony as codified under the Ritsuryō state) was used to strengthen the spirit-soul of the emperor before he performed the major rituals of Daijō sai and Niiname sai and was to take place on the "day of the lion" (tora) prior to those rites.

First referred to in the "eleventh month, 685" entry of the Chronicles of Japan (Nihon shoki).

Usually the rite was performed within the Imperial Household Ministry (Kunaishō) where a "landing place" (kamiza) for the deity was constructed. The ministers and lesser officials attended bearing the emperor’s clothes, while shrine virgins (mikannagi) and kagura-dancers (sarume) from the Department of Divinities (Jingikan) conducted the ceremony.

This ceremony uses a special type of large vessel known as ukifunetsuki 有卦船, which some say reflects the Ame-no-iwato legend, although contrary theories exist as to its significance. After the end of the Heian period, the buildings for the Department of the Imperial Household no longer existed and the ceremony was held where they once stood. The ritual was abolished in the fifteenth century and then revived in pre-modern times, though it no longer followed its original formula. It has taken place on palace grounds since the Meiji era.
In the ancient and medieval eras, settling of the soul ceremonies were also performed for the junior empresses and crown prince.
source : Kokugakuin University. January 2007


chinkon kishin 鎮魂帰神

Tsushiro Hirofumi writes

The terms chinkon and kishin are found in the classics but use of the four-character phrase became common only after a Shintō-derived new religion, Ōmoto, began to use it. Here, chinkon refers to the procedures for healing and directing spirits; by extension, it also refers to joining a deity's spirit [with a human subject].

Kishin means possession by the spirit of a kami. One type of kishin is abrupt and spontaneous while another is humanly induced through the process of chinkon. Various kinds of possessions are distinguished and finely graded, with spiritual unity between an individual and Ame no minakanushi considered the supreme form of kishin.

source : Kokugakuin University. January 2007

Worldwide use

Things found on the way


Nishimura Kazuko
haiku collection
tama shizume

Related words


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