Showing posts with label Shinto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shinto. Show all posts


Atsuta Shrine Festivals

. Aichi Prefecture - Festivals .

Atsuta Shrine Festivals

***** Location: Nagoya
***** Season: See below
***** Category: Observance


Atsuta Shrine (熱田神宮, Atsuta-jingū)
is a Shinto shrine traditionally believed to have been established during the reign of Emperor Keikō (71-130) located in Atsuta-ku, Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture in Japan.
The shrine is familiarly known as Atsuta-Sama (Venerable Atsuta) or simply as Miya (the Shrine). Since ancient times, it has been especially revered, ranking with the Great Shrine of Ise.

The Kojiki explains that Atsuta Shingu Shrine was originally founded to house the imperial treasure sword,
Kusanagi no Tsurugi 草薙の剣

According to traditional sources, Yamato Takeru died in the 43rd year of Emperor Keiko's reign (景行天皇43年). The possessions of the dead prince were gathered together along with the sword Kusanagi; and his widow venerated his memory in a shrine at her home. Sometime later, these relics and the sacred sword were moved to the current location of the Atsuta Shrine. Nihonshoki explains that this move occurred in the 51st year of Keiko's reign, but shrine tradition also dates this event in the 1st year of Emperor Chūai's reign.

From 1872 through 1946, the Kasuga Shrine was officially designated one of the Kanpei-taisha (官幣大社), meaning that it stood in the first rank of government supported shrines.

This Shinto shrine is dedicated to the veneration of Atsuta-no-Ōokami. Also enshrined are the "Five Great Gods of Atsuta", all of whom are connected with the legendary narratives of the sacred sword --
Takehaya Susanoo-no-mikoto,
Yamato Takeru-no-mikoto,
Miyasu-hime no-mikoto, and
Take Inadane-no-mikoto.

Over 70 ceremonies and festivals are held annually at the shrine.

Hatsu-Ebisu (January 5):
Seeking good fortune in the new year from Ebisu, the God of Fortune.

Yodameshi Shinji (January 7):
The projected annual rainfall for the coming year is prophesized by measuring the amount of water in a pot kept underneath the floor of the Eastern Treasure House.

Touka Shinji (January 11):
see kigo below

Hosha Shinji (January 15):
Ceremony which involves shooting an arrow at a wooden piece called chigi fixed at the center of a huge mark.

Bugaku Shinji (May 1):
A ceremonial dance from the Heian era is performed outdoors on a red painted stage.

Eyoudo Shinji (May 4):
A festival to commemorate the return of the sacred sword in the reign of Emperor Tenji.

Shinyo-Togyo Shinji (May 5):
A festival in which portable shrine (mikoshi) is carried in a formal procession to the Western Gate, where ceremonies and prayers for the security of the Imperial Palace are performed in the open air.
In the Meiji period and Taisho period, this procession moved in sober and solemn silence. The ceremony at the gate was brief, lasting only 20 minutes; and then the mikoshi and its attendants returned into the Shrine precincts. Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa provided a new mikoshi and a complete set of robes and other accouterments for this festival on the occasion of repairs to the shrine in the 1457-1459 (Chōroku 1-3).

Rei Sai (June 5):
see kigo below
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

kencha sai 献茶際 tea offering ceremony
kenka sai 献花祭 flower offering ceremony


kigo for mid-summer

Atsuta matsuri 熱田祭 (あつたまつり) Atsuta festival
shoobu matsuri 尚武祭(しょうぶまつり)"military arts festival"
..... shoobu e 尚武会(しょうぶえ)

makiwarabune 巻藁船(まきわらぶね)ships with lanterns
(makiwara is a roll of straw, used for practising Japanese archery. On the ships, this straw rolls are used to fix the lanterns.)

The main festival of this shrine, on June 5.
It used to be on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, like the tango seasonal festival.

Portable tabernacles (mikoshi) in various styles are carried along the approaches to the shrine; many mikoshi are carried by children, who parade to the sound of drums and bamboo festival flutes.
At night, groups of 365 lanterns on huge boats (makiwarabune) float down the river and are then displayed at the East and West Gate of the shrine.
A firework lights the night sky too.

This festival commemorates an Imperial proclamation (semmyō) issued in 1872 (Meiji 5). After 1906 (Meiji 39), exhibitions of judo, fencing (kendo), and archery (kyudo) are presented for the gratification of the kami. Acrobats, artists and dancers join the parade and many stalls sell local specialities along the road.


kigo for the New Year

Atsuta tooka shinji
熱田踏歌神事 (あつたとうかしんじ)
Atsuta shrine dance and song ceremony

January 11

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A variation on an annual ceremony (Tooka no sechi-e) of the Imperial Court in the Heian period (10th-12th Century)
On this day, the shrine dance becomes a prayer in movement hoping for bumper crops of the year.

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.Tooka Sechi-e 踏歌節会 Dance and song festival
at shrine Sumiyoshi Jinja in Osaka
A ritual of the same name is held on January 11 at Atsuta Jingu in Atsuta Ward, Nagoya.


Miya Juku : Station Nr. 41 at the old Tokaido Road

Atsuta shinji (熱田神事) Atsuta Shrine Ceremony
woodblock by Hiroshige Utagawa

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Miya-juku (宮宿, Miya-juku) was the forty-first of the fifty-three stations of the Tōkaidō. It is located in the Atsuta-ku section of the city of Nagoya, in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. It was six km from Narumi-juku, the preceding post station.
In addition to being a post station on the Tōkaidō, it was also part of the Minoji (a minor route which runs to Tarui-juku on the Nakasendō) and the Saya Kaidō 佐屋. As a result, it had the most hatago lodgings of any post station along the Tōkaidō, in addition to its two honjin main lodgings for feudal lords.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

. The 53 stations of the Tokaido 東海道五十三次 .

From Atsuta there were two possibilities to reach the next station, Kuwana.
One was via Saya and then by boat on the river Kisogawa 木曽川.
See Matsuo Basho below.


FOOD served at Atsuta Jingu

. "Miya Kishimen 宮きしめん" Kishimen shrine noodles

. Fuji Dango 藤団子 Wisteria Dumplings


Kiyomizu Sha 清水社 Kiyomizu Shrine
in the woods around 熱田神宮 Atsuta Jingu

Behind the shrine is the sacred spring, dedicated to
. Mizuha no me no kami 罔象女神 / 弥都波能売神 .
Mizuhanome ミヅハノメ
o shimizu お清水 sacred clear water

There was once a samurai with an eye disease. When he washed his eyes with this spring water, he got healed soon. ME no kami - 目 means eyes.

The water helps you obtain a beautiful skin if you wash your face with the spring water.

If you pour water on a stone in the spring with a dipper, hitting three times, your wish will come true.

. biyoo jisha 美容寺社 praying for beauty .

. Amulets for Eye Disease .


Matsuo Basho visited here on his trip "Nozarashi Kiko" 野ざらし紀行.
He wrote

I went to Atsuta to worship.
The grounds of the shrine were utterly in ruins, the earthen wall collapsed and covered with clumps of weeds. In one place a rope marked the remains of a smaller shrine, in another was a stone with the name of a god now unworshipped. All around, mugwort and longing fern grew wild. Somehow the place drew my heart, more than if it had been splendidly maintained.

shinobu sae karete mochi kau yadori kana

even the fern of longing
is withered; buying rice-cakes
at an inn

Tr. Barnhill

This hokku has the cut marker KANA at the end of line 3.

even the shinobu fern has withered
and I buy mochi ricecakes
at the inn . . . 

Tr. Gabi Greve

. WKD : shinobu, shinobugusa 忍ぶ草 Hare's-foot fern .
Davallia mariesii
kigo for all autumn

- - - - -

togi naosu kagami mo kiyoshi yuki no hana
togi-naosu kagami mo kiyoshi yuki no hana

freshly polished,
the sacred mirror too is clear:
blossoms of snow

Tr. Barnhill

Polished anew
the holy mirror too is clear–
blossoms of snow

Tr. Shirane

. shinkyoo 神鏡 the "divine mirror" .
They remind of the mikusa no kamudakara 三種の神器, sanshu no shingi, the famous three imperial regalia.
At the shrine in Atsuta, the sword Kusanagi (草薙劍, Kusanagi no Tsurugi) is kept and maybe a replica of the divine mirror Yata no Kagami 八咫鏡.

Basho's disciple in Atsuta :
. - Hayashi Tooyoo 桐葉 Hayashi Toyo - .

"Nozarashi Kiko" 野ざらし紀行
. Matsuo Basho 松尾芭蕉 - Archives of the WKD .

Saya Kaidoo 佐屋街道 The Saya Road

Atsuta Jingu 熱田神宮
Iwatsuka Shuku 岩塚宿
Manba Shuku 万場宿
Kamori Shuku 神守宿
Saya Shuku 佐屋宿
Kuwana Shuku 桑名宿

source : kaidolist/sayakaido

From Atsuta there were two possibilities to reach the next station of the Tokaido, Kuwana.
One was via Saya 佐屋 and then by boat on the river Kisogawa 木曽川.
Basho choose this road on his last trip to Kamigata.

He stayed at the home of Hermit Yamada 陰士山田 on the 25th day of the 5th lunar month in 1694 元禄7年5月25日. Together with other disciples they had a haikai meeting.

kuina naku to hito no ieba ya Saya domari

"the water rail calls there”
people say, and so
staying over at Saya

Tr. Barnhill

This is a greeting poem for his host Yamada.
The cut marker YA is at the end of line 2.

Now there is also a memorial mount with a stone of the Basho poem.
kuinazuka 水鶏塚(くいなつか)


shinryoku no Atsuta ni ogamu bakari nari

at Atsuta shrine
in all this fresh green
I can only pray

Yamamoto Shigeo
source :

Related words

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Imigomori retreat


Retreat on the day of the wild boar (imigomori )

***** Location: Kakogawa, Hyogo
***** Season: New Year
***** Category: Observance


imigomori 亥巳籠 (いみごもり)
ritual retreat
from the first day of the wild boar (i 亥)
to the day of the snake (mi 巳)

Kako no monoshizume 加古の物鎮(かこのものしずめ)
seclusion at Kakogawa

also spelled oigomori 亥巳籠(おいごもり)
and migomori 身籠 . 妊 means pregnant.

at the shrine Hioka jinja 日岡神社 in Kakogawa, Hyogo

People put up a new shimenawa rope for the shrine and place sacred branches in front of the sanctuary. From the hour of the wild boar to the hour of the snake seven days later they try to make no noise.

It is a pun on the sound of IMI (imi 忌み)
a period of respectful mourning or
a period of paying great respect to the deities.

Legend says that the mother of Yamato Takeru,
Princess Inahi ooiratsume no mikoto 稲日大郎姫命
(いなひおおいらつめのみこと)"Oiratsume of Inabi"
gave birth to the royal twins on the day of the snake at the end of this period.
So people keep quiet to make her birthing easier.

The priests of the shrine prepare special meals for the deities during this period.

On the last day, special arare sweets are distributed
(年の実 - fruit of the year)
and ritual shoting occurs in the shrine compound (matoi 的射).

After this ritual, spring was welcomed in the old province of Harima 播磨.

There are other igomori rituals in Japan.


Igomori matsuri
Seclusion festival.

A festival held from March eleventh to thirteenth at Tosa Jinja in Kōchi City, Kōchi prefecture. From the evening of March first the gūji (head priest) and shinshoku (shrine priests) enter into a period of monoimi (purificatory abstinence) On the afternoon of the twelfth a pair of chopsticks made from peeled haji (wax tree) branches is added to a container filled with steamed brown rice called mikinehan (thrice-pounded rice).
A rite is performed in which a special shinsen (sacred meal) is offered to the kami. Early on the morning of the thirteenth after the main ritual observance, the priests partake of a naorai (sacred communal meal). The head priest grasps some of the steamed brown rice that had been removed from its place of offering with chopsticks that have been broken in two and eats it. Then the other priests eat a portion of the brown rice in turn. In previous times after the ritual observance in front of the sessha (branch shrine) Nishigozensha, the priest is said to have performed a rice planting rite called saitsukuri.

At Hisamaru Jinja in Kanbe, Tahara-chō, Atsumi-gun, Aichi prefecture, on the day of the monkey in January there was an
igomori matsuri
(written 忌籠祭).
The priests moved the shintai (sacred object) to which the kami's spirit had been transferred, carrying it next to the breast, and performed cold water ablutions in the sea. Since residents were not permitted to watch the movement of object and priests from the shrine to the sea and back again, the rite came to be called the nematsuri (sleeping festival) because the residents closed their doors and took to their beds. According to tradition, the people had to be discrete because the kami (saijin) worshipped at the shrine was originally a senior court noble who did not want to be seen because of his unsightly appearance.

At Hioka Jinja in Kakogawa City, Hyōgo prefecture there is an imigomori (亥巳籠, "boar and snake seclusion") festival that lasts from the first day of the boar of the first lunar month until the day of the snake
- this igomori (亥巳籠) rite puns on the igomori (忌籠) festival at Hisamaru Jinja.
The character "i" in the latter case is usually read "imi," meaning purificatory abstinence or taboo .
If the observances of the taboo were insufficient, Mt. Hioka was said to rumble and batsu (divine punishment) would follow.
source : Mogi Sakae, Kokugakuin


Hioka jinja 日岡神社

This shrine is famous for making prayers for a save delivery (anzan).

. . . CLICK here for Photos of ema !

ema votive tablet for the year of the Tiger

Deities in residence

天伊佐佐比古命 Amenoisasa hiko no mikoto
Ame no Isasa Hiko no Mikoto
豊玉比売命 Toyotamahime
鵜草葺不合尊 Ugayafukiaezu no mikoto 盧茲草葺不合尊
father of Jinmu Tenno 神武天皇
天照皇大御神 Amaterasu Omikami
市杵島比売命 Ichikishimahime

. Anzan o-Mamori, 安産お守り
Talismans for Safe Delivery .

. Amulets and Talismans from Japan . 

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Things found on the way

. imi 忌み / 斎み taboo in Shintoism .


A son of Emperor Keikō, and father to Emperor Chūai.
Yamatotakeru's mother was Ōiratsume of Inabi in Harima, the daughter of Wakatakekibitsuhiko, ancestor of the clan known as Kibi no Omi.

. Yamato Takeru, Yamatotakeru 日本武尊 .


mi no koku 巳の刻 the double-hour of the snake

Kitagawa Utamaro - Hour of the Snake
from the series Twelve Hours in the Yoshiwara

Hour of the snake, from 9 to 11 in the morning.
This is the time when snakes begin to leave their habitats.

- quote -
Traditionally in Japan, the day was divided into twelve intervals, each named after a zodiacal sign. This way of telling time provided Utamaro with a clever schema for a series depicting the life of the Yoshiwara courtesan. A cartouche in the shape of a pillar clock contains the title of the series, and the individual hours are announced on the bell portion. The present print depicts the hour of the snake (9-11 a.m.), with a courtesan emerging from her morning lustrations to receive a refreshing cup of tea from a servant.

The image of pampered courtesans in prints like this belies the sometimes harsh reality of their lives. Many courtesans were purchased from poor families as young girls, through a network of scouts that scoured the countryside for potential candidates. While successful courtesans enjoyed an education that brought not only literacy and social skills, but also many physical comforts, they also incurred substantial financial obligations. Courtesans had daily quotas of clients (which if they failed to meet, resulted in heavy penalties), and it was common for them to be in a state of perpetual indebtedness that resulted in virtual slavery.
- source : -


giving birth
to a special haiku -
wild boar and snake

Gabi Greve, January 2012

Related words

***** . NEW YEAR - the complete SAIJIKI

. Amulets and Talismans from Japan . 

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Itsukushima Shrine Miyajima

Sanki Daigongen 三鬼大権現 . see below

Itsukushima Shrine (Itsukushima Jinja)

***** Location: Miyajima, Japan
***** Season: Various, see below
***** Category: Observance


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A Shinto shrine on the island of Itsukushima (popularly known as Miyajima 宮島) in the city of Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture in Japan.
The shrine complex is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The shrine is dedicated to the three daughters of Susano-o no Mikoto, Shinto deity of seas and storms and brother of the great sun deity, Amaterasu (tutelary deity of the Imperial Household). Because the island itself has been considered sacred, in order to maintain its purity commoners were not allowed to set foot on Miyajima through much of its history. In order to allow pilgrims to approach, the shrine was built like a pier over the water, so that it appeared to float, separate from the land, and therefore existed in a liminal state between the sacred and the profane.

The shrine's signature red entrance gate, or torii, was built over the water for much the same reason. Commoners had to steer their boats through the torii before approaching the shrine.

The first shrine buildings were probably erected in the 6th century, and the shrine has been destroyed many times, often by typhoons.
In 1168, Taira no Kiyomori 平清盛 had it rebuild.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

I visited many times, is is truely an amazing place.
The reflections of the shrine in the water on a bright evening or moonlit night are superb.

There are many shrines of this name in other parts of Japan.

source : facebook - Japan Dream


. The White Shrine Horse at Miyajima 宮島白馬   


kigo for the New Year

Itsukushima jinja no toshikoshi sai 厳島神社の年越祭
Crossing into the new year at Itsukushima shrine

January 6
One of the three great ceremonies at the shrine.

People involved in farming come to the shine to pray for a good harvest.
Ritual dance performance and later a feast and talks about farmwork and crop prices held.


Itsukushima no on yumi hajime
厳島の御弓始 (いつくしまのおんゆみはじめ)
first shooting with bow and arrow at Itsukushima

kisha 鬼射(きしゃ)"hitting the demon"

onyumi shinji 御弓神事(おんゆみしんじ)
honorable ceremony of the bow

On January 20

The target with the character 鬼, called the "demon target" 鬼的 and shot at with bow and arrow to prevent evil for the coming year.

Now held at the shrine Oomoto Jinja at Miyajima
宮島の大元神社 Omoto shrine ceremony
Oomotesai 大元祭.


Itsukushima Shrine New Year Ceremonies
Jan 1
御神衣献上式 Go Shin-i Kenjo-shiki Ceremony (offering new clothes to deities)
歳旦祭 Saitan-sai Festival Ceremony starts at noon. Bugaku traditional dance performance starts at 5:30am.
Jan 2
二日祭り Futsukasai Ceremony 09:00 Bugaku performance 13:00
Jan 3
元始祭 Genshisai Ceremony 09:00 Bugaku performance 13:00
Jan 5
地久祭 (Chikyuusai) Chikyusai Ceremony and Bugaku performance 05:30 Includes Batoh (Sunrise Dance) only performed once a year on this day.

source :

source : fb
cap for bugaku dance


kigo for late summer

Itsukushima matsuri 厳島祭 (いつくしままつり)
Itsukushima festival
Itsukushima kangensai 厳島管絃祭(いつくしまかんげんさい)
17th day of the sixth lunar month.
Now on the 17th day of July.

The main festival of the shrine.

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Special gozabune ships are made for the procession toward the gate in the water.

Bugaku dance performance and gagaku tradtional music are part of the festival.


kigo for early autumn

Itsukushima Ennen sai
Ennen Festival at Itsukushima

Ennen "life prolonging" dance performances are held at many shrines in Japan.

tamatori matsuri 玉取祭 (たまとりまつり)
"festival of grabbing the bead"

On the 14th day of the seventh lunar month, now in mid-August on a Sunday of high tide.
On a boat in front of the main hall is a boat with a large rosary and young men of the island try to grab a bead of about 20 cm diameter for good luck.

clay bell replica of the TAMA bead


kigo for early winter

Itsukushima chinza sai
厳島鎮座祭 (いつくしまちんざさい)
Shrine dedication festival
oshimeshi, o shime shi 御燈消(おしめし)"turning off the lights"

yamaguchi toji no matsuri 山口閉の祭(やまぐちとじのまつり)
"closing down mountain roads" festival
After the shrine is closed down for the winter, it will be re-opened the next year for "openening the mountain road" 山口開. Loggers are not allowed to go to the forest and cut down trees during the closed time.

On the ten days from the first day of the wild boar in the tenth lunar month to the day of the monkey in the eleventh lunar month.
Nowadays on the first day of the monkey in November.

During these 10 days it is not allowed to make a loud noise on the island.
Things that produce lound and high noises are covered with blankets to keep them quiet. The lids of rice cookers had to be closed especially carefully.
On the last day, the day of the monkey, all lanterns and lights on the island are turned off and rituals are carried out in the dark.


Miyajima in the snow

夏の月 Summer Moon at Miyajima
- reference : Tsuchiya Koitsu  土屋光逸 (1870-1949) -


Sato Masato writes:
Due to belief in the "Three Female Kami" (sanjoshin) of Munakata at Itsukushima Jinja, the Itsukushima kami was worshipped as a protector of fishermen and boats.
Itsukushima is also known as a "military kami" (gunshin), as seen in this passage from the Ryōjin hishō:
"To the west of the [Ōsaka] checkpoint (seki) is the kami of the battlefield, Ichibon Chūsan (Kibitsu Shrine) and Itsukushima in Aki ..."
After becoming governor of Aki (Aki no kami 安芸守) in 1146, Taira no Kiyomori (1118~1181) often visited the shrine. Upon Kiyomori's recommendation, Goshirakawa-in and Kenshunmon-in visited the shrine in the third month of 1174, and Takakura Jōkō visited twice.

At the end of the Heian Period Itsukushima was worshipped by the entire Heike clan, and in 1168 the shrine's shaden structure was restored and expanded. This connection to the Heike clan may have originated in the trade and shipping in the Inland Sea that had flourished since the days of Taira no Tadamori (Kiyomori's father).

Due to Heike devotion, the Heike Nōkyō scrolls 平家納経 (a National Treasure) were originally donated to the shrine in 1164. In the medieval period Itsukushima was supported by the Ōuchi and Mōri clans, and the Shingon temple Suishōji 水精寺 became the shrine's administrative temple.

Also a legend began that Kūkai founded (kaisan) the temple Misen. The "original Buddhist deity" (honji) of Itsukushima was believed to be the Eleven-faced Kannon (Ekadasamukha Avalokitesvara) or Mahâvairocana.
Among commoners, a cult of Ebisu-gami developed, and Itsukushima was also worshipped by fishermen and merchants.
source : Kokugakuin University. 2006

. Shrine Munakata Taisha 宗像大社 .


The Deer are seen as messengers of the deity of Miyajima and roam freely, sometimes as a nuisance for the tourists.

Legend knows that when Mori Motonari and Sue Harukata fought their battle in 1555, Harukata had his troops near the shrine, while Motonari landed on the other side of the island, trying to get over the mountains and through the dense wild forest to make a surprize attack.
His troups almost lost their way in the dark night, but then a deer showed them the small path.
(The deer was MAYBE the priest of the shrine, disguised as a deer, trying to help his friend and sponsor Motonari.)

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Things found on the way

Miyajima hariko 宮島張子 papermachee dolls

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. Regional Folk Toys from Japan .


Anagomeshi あなごめし Rice with eel

Station lunchbox from Miyajima
The great rice paddle shamoji in Miyajima 宮島しゃもじ

The island is also famous for its red maple leaves in autumn.

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. momiji manjuu もみじ饅頭
rice dumplings in the form of red maple leaves


Festivals calendar at Miyajima

Most rituals are accompanied by bugaku dance on the stage above the water.

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. . . . . January
Shin-i Kenjo-shiki Ceremony (offering new clothes to deities)Saitan-sai Festival

. . . . . February
Setsubun Festival
Miyajima Oyster Festival

. . . . . March
Memorial Service for Kitchen Knives
Kiyomori Shrine Festival
Miyajima Hina Doll Presentation

. . . . . April
Hiwatari . Walking Over Fire Ceremony
Satsuki Festival

. . . . . May
Memorial Service for Empress Suiko

. . . . . June
Japan's Ancient Martial Arts Performance
Kobo Daishi's Birthday Celebration
Great Benzaiten Festival of Itsukushima
(Daiganji Temple)
. Itsukushima Hime 厳島姫命
as Benten, Benzaiten 弁財天

. . . . . July
Seven Gods of Fortune Festival (Daishoin Temple)
Itsukushima Shrine Kangen Festival

. . . . . August
48,000-day Kannon Festival
Miyajima Floating Fireworks Festival
Kinseki Jizo - son Festival (Tokujuji Temple)

. . . . . September
Tanomosan (small boats filled with dolls and fruit that are set adrift from Itsukushima Shrine to sail toward the Otorii Gate.)
Mantoo-e . candle light memorial

. . . . . October
Akiyo Tomoeda Noh Performance
Sanno Shrine Festival
Tea Dedication Ceremony, Omote Senke

. . . . . November
Fudo Myo-o Festival, including
Walking Over Fire Ceremony (Daiganji Temple)
Maple Festival . Momiji Matsuri

. . . . . December
Chinka-sai (Festival for prevention of fire disaster)


Matsuo Basho wrote (Nozarashi Kiko)

年暮れぬ 笠きて草鞋はきながら
. toshi kurenu kasa kite waraji hakinagara .

wearing my travelers hat
and my straw sandals
the year comes to an end

(Other sources place this haiku in 1684,
when he returned to his home village in Iga Ueno.)

source : 宮島かわら版


yuku haru ya kyoo osame ni to Itsukushima

spring is passing -
I bring copied sutras
to Itsukushima

Natsume Soseki 夏目漱石

Heike Nokyo 平家納経
The famous sutras copied by the Heike

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Related words

***** WKD : Copying sutras (shakyoo)

. Hiroshima Prefecture Festivals  

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. Tengupedia - 天狗ペディア - Tengu ABC-List.

Sankiboo 三鬼坊 Sankibo, Sanki-Bo
厳島三鬼坊 Itsukushima

Sanki Daigongen 三鬼大権現
The local people call them 三鬼さん Sanki San.
Sanki Daigongen are three fierce guardian gods of 弥山 Mount Misen.

- 追帳鬼神 Tsuicho Kishin :福徳 Good Fortune - 大日如来 Dainichi Nyorai
- 時眉鬼神 Jibi Kishin:知恵 Wisdom - 虚空蔵菩薩 Kokuzo Bosatsu
- 魔羅鬼神 Mara Kijin :降伏 Surrender - 不動明王 Fudo Myo-O

- - - - - Amulet bell of Sanki-Bo

With the separation of Buddhism and Shinto during the Meiji period, they were moved to the 三鬼堂 Sankido Hall from their shrine 御山神社 Miyama Jinja.

source : amakara tosan
- 徳、智恵、降伏 -

大小の天狗 Big and small Tengu, long-nosed goblins, are their servants. Many people visit here to pray for the happiness of their family and the success of their business.
The first Prime Minister of Japan, 伊藤博文 Ito Hirobumi is said to have been an earnest devotee. He contributed a large amount to construct the climbing path.
A special hall is dedicated to this deities:
Sankodoo 三鬼堂 Sankido







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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Osorezan Festival


Osorezan Big Festival (Osorezan taisai)

***** Location: Aomori
***** Season: Late summer
***** Category: Observance


Osorezan Taisai 恐山大祭 (おそれざんたいさい)
Great Festival at Mount Osorezan
Osorezan Grand Festival

itako いたこ Itako medium, female shaman
itako ichi いたこ市(いたこいち) Itako market

July 22 to 24

During the main festival in summer, many people come to get in contact with their lost loved ones through the blind Itako shamans.

The Osorezan access is open from May 1st to the end of October.
This region is one of the three most sacred places in Japan,
with Koyasan and Heizan.


I visited Osorezan many years ago.
I will try to tell you more about our encounter with the Itako in my report below.

. The Hot Spring (onsen 温泉) at Osorezan .

Lake Usorisan 宇曽利山湖
. Look at more of my photos !

Pilgrims also come here in autumn

Osorezan Aki Mairi 恐山秋参り.


Mount Osore (恐山, Osorezan)
is a region in the center of remote Shimokita Peninsula of Aomori Prefecture, Japan.

According to popular mythology, Mount Osore (literally "Mount Fear") marks the entrance to Hell, with a small brook running to the neighboring Lake Usorisan that is equated to the Sanzu River, the Japanese equivalent to Styx. The reputation is not surprising, given that the very volcanically-active site is a charred landscape of blasted rock filled with bubbling pits of unearthly hues and noxious fumes.

The Bodai temple (菩提寺, Bodaiji) presides over it all and organizes the area's main event, the twice-yearly Itako Taisai festival. The grand festival is held over a period of five days beginning on July 20. In a ritual called kuchiyose (口寄せ), blind mediums known as itako claim to summon the souls of the dead and deliver messages in their voices.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

People lining up for the kuchiyose.
口寄せ = Geisterbeschwörung,
„Herbeirufung des Mundes“.


Here are more of the details, please read Mark first and then come back:

Sai no Kawara, the Limbo for Children
The Role of Jizo Bosatsu in Saving Lost Souls
Mountain of the Dead, 霊場恐山
source : Mark Schumacher

Some literature

Schattschneider, Ellen. "Buy me a Bride: Death and Exchange in
Northern Japanese Bride Doll Marriage." American Ethnologist 28.4
(2001): 854-80. - Wedding Dolls

"Family resemblances: Memorial Images and the Face of Kinship."
Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 31.1 (2004): 141-62.

"The Bloodstained Doll: Violence and the Gift in Wartime Japan."
Forthcoming in the Journal of Japanese Studies.

See also "The Mystery of the Mascot Dolls"at


remote sai no kawara in Tohoku

In Shinto mythology
the story goes that between life and death there flows a river.
This river is called Sai no Kawara 賽の河原 (translated it means Sai [Childrens Limbo; Limbo means a region on the border of hell or heaven, serving as the abode after death of unbaptized infants.] Kawara [riverside].
According to Shinto belief, children do not go to heaven or hell, but the souls of the dead babies play on the banks of this river, Sai no Kawara. And one of the things they have to do as their Duty (penance) there, is to stack up pebbles, and build little towers.

However, while doing so, a naughty, horrible devil usually appears who disturbs their playing, breaks their towers up, and scares them. And, it is here where the long sleeves of Jizos robe comes in handy. Because Jizo is the god who protects children, and he does not fail to protect them there on the banks of the Sai no Kawara. So when scared by this devil, they all jump into the sleeve of Jizos robe, where they hide and feel safe and warm. It is said that in the old days, some of the Jizo statues were covered in pebbles from people who stacked the pebbles in front of the Jizo, because it is believed, that for every tower of pebbles you build on earth, you help the souls of the dead children to perform their duty there on the Sai no Kawara.

Wedding Dolls for the Dead

Kokeshi and Infanticide in Japan

. Sai no Kawara, the Limbo for Children .


The female Itako Shamans of Osorezan イタコ

They are a phenomen in themselves during the festival.
I have had one of these itako shamans call up my dead father from Germany. After a long preparation with prayers and incense, she got the contact. But my father talked through the medium, but in the almost non-understandable dialect of Tsugaru. We did not dare interrupt her. After about 30 minutes all was over.
We got the advise to take good care of his grandchildren (we do not have any children), and I should take care to take a cold in the coming winter.

That is me in front of her tent, you can even see the tip of our car.

The itako later told us, she once had foreigners asking for her service, but they interrupted her twice to ask for a translation into normal Japanese ... by the time the spirit had left her and no advise from the other realm was given to them.

It took her a long time of apprenticeship to become an itako, with water ablutions in the middle of the cold Tohoku winter while she was only 12 years old, and studying with the priests at this temple, on how best to soothe the pain of the living, who lost a loved family member. She has a set of "advise" for the most common losses, like father, mother or a child. Also her "advise" through the kuchiyose seance depends on the time between the loss and the visit to her. She has a home on the Tsugaru peninsula where she spends a quiet winter and sits in her tent here in Osorezan during most of the summer, living a frugal life in the temple compound.

The itako play an important role in connecting the dead with their grieving relatives and provide relief by telling them the dead soul wants this or that, which the relatives can provide as an offering in the temple and feel much better afterwards. The provision of brides as wedding dolls for young men, who were lost at sea or during other accidents, is one example of solace for the berieved parents.

Daily Yomiuri: Why are most itako women?
There are various explanations. While male shamans are common in China and Southeast Asia, female shamans are more prevalent in India, North and South Korea, and Japan, where societies are based on patriarchal values. I think shamans tend to be female in societies where women are suppressed or discriminated against as an inferior gender. By associating themselves with the gods, women are able to balance their power with men in such societies.

Japanese used to believe that the gods offered mercy to those in misery, especially Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. She is one of the most commonly believed-in gods among itako. I have seen noseless yuta shamans in Okinawa Prefecture. Such physical defects used to be interpreted as symbolic of supernaturalstigmata.

The oldest reference to female shamans in Japan appears in the Wei Zhi, a Chinese chronicle of the third century. A woman called Himiko, who is described as a shaman, ruled an early Japanese political federation known as Yamatai using a divine power to converse with the gods.
The first reference to female shamans in Japanese writing dates backto the 11th entury.

What religion do itako believe in?
How is the initiation ceremony carried out?
Why haven't itako been respected in the same way as priests?
How can you verify that an itako has really entered a trance?

Daily Yomiuri: Can itako contribute to the well-being of modern people?
Shamanism can help make up for weaknesses of modern culture by providing relief for people in extreme suffering and pain, making fuller use of people's daily lives and keeping society and culture intact. Shamanism fills some of the spaces left open by modern rationalism and science.

Read the details here :
source : Miki Fujii for The Yomiuri Shimbun


イタコ 中村タケ Itako Nakamura Take
She was born in 1932.

This publication "Itako Nakamura Take" consists of two DVDs with subtitles both in Japanese and English, six CDs and detailed explanatory book including the texts of all prayers in Japanese with excerpts in English.
The explanatory book is written by Komoda Haruko 薦田治子 et al. and translation by Kimura Mika.


This publication contains 61 chants and prayers that Nakamura Take chants in the various shamanic rituals, such as praying for the family's safety and prosperity, conjuring the dead and spell casting to cure a disease.
It received the Prize for Excellence, Agency for Cultural Affairs, National Arts Festival, 2013.
- source :


Hotoke-ga-ura 仏が浦

seen from above, on the way down

This is the most western part of the Osorezan Buddhist world, from here the souls take off directly to the Paradise in the West. The rough mountains look like Buddha statues and a huge area is reserved for the dead children.

cliffs like Buddhas

a cave for the final prayer

. More photos in my album .

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Zu den mizuko, bzw. den mabiki-ko, den umgebrachten Säuglingen, und ihren roten Lätz­chen habe ich in einem Tempel folgende Er­klärung gehört: Jizō hat gelobt, alle Kinder aus der Vor­hölle zu retten. Weil Kinder noch keine Sünden be­gangen haben, kommen sie nämlich nicht direkt in die Hölle, das wäre ja un­ge­recht. Aber sie müssen am Grenz­fluss warten und während dieser Zeit Steine auf­einander schichten. Das ist ähnlich wie Sisyphos. Sie warten so lange, bis keiner mehr um sie trauert. Die Mutter bindet also eines der Kinder­lätzchen zu einem Jizō und bittet, durch den Geruch des Lätzchens das Kind in der Vorhölle zu identi­fizieren und zum Paradies zu bringen.

Wenn die Mutter früher, in der Edo-Zeit zu lange trauerte, konnte sie nicht genug im Haus und am Feld arbeiten. Daher wurde ihr eine Periode von 7 Tagen nach dem Tod eines Kindes (nicht bei Abtreibung, aber bei mabiki, dem Töten eines weib­lichen Säuglings) ge­gönnt. Danach musste sie die Sachen des Kindes, Lätzchen und Spiel­zeug, bei Jizo „abgeben“ und die Trauerzeit war vorüber, Mutter musste wieder arbeiten gehen! Eine recht diesseitliche Religionsbenutzung.

Um den Iwaki-san in Nordjapan werden verstorbene Kinder zu ihrem 20. Ge­burts­tag verheiratet. Die Tempel verkaufen ca. 50 cm große Puppen von Bräuten oder Bräutigamen, die dann mit dem toten Kind „verheiratet“ werden. Das macht die Eltern froh und die Tempel reich. Es ist er­staun­lich, dort in so einer Halle mit tausenden von Hoch­zeits-Puppen zu stehen! Die Itako-Shamaninnen am Osore-Berg reden den Eltern auch noch manch anderes ein — so werden Tennis­schuhe und Fahr­räder oder Frack und Regen­mantel gespendet, manche Tempel sehen aus wie Altwarenhändler.

Dr. Gabriele Greve
source :

presents for the dead



Related words

***** . Hanayome ningyoo 花嫁人形  bride dolls .
and a famous folk song

. Sanzu no Kawa 三途の川 River Sanzu, on the way to hell .

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