Feb 062013
Asuka Onda Matsuri - rice, fertility and ...spanking

Onda Matsuri and Ta-asobi—literally playing in the field—are one of the oldest festivals in Japan. They are being held in winter or early spring.

They are a way to preserve and passing the knowledge of rice cultivation from generation to gemeration. During such festival in shrine a pantomime of planting rice on the field is performed with the active participation of children.

Jan 302013
Japanese archery ceremony in Kashihara Jingu

Momoteshiki is a ceremony performed by Ogasawara school of Japanese archery, usually in religious places as an offering.

In theory 10 archers shoot 10 series of arrows which sums up to 100 series which the ceremony draws its name from, but nowadays the exact number differs.

Japanese archery with a long bow and beautiful ceremonial costumes is definitely worth seeing.

Sep 262012
Nuibosai - rice harvest festival in Taga Taisha

Three to four months after planting, rice plants yield crops.

In Taga Taisha first ears are taken by girls called nuibome in traditional dress. They give rice to the priests who take it to the shrine and put on the altar.

Rice picked up on this day will be used for Niinamesai ceremony performed by Emperor Akihito on 23rd of November.

Sep 192012
Entering the shrines with danjiri

During the festival in Kishiwada participants enter the shrines with danjiri floats.

There they receive blessing and ritual purification from the priests.

After the ceremony, the festival continues with danjiri being pulled all over the town.

Aug 012012
Sumiyoshi Matsuri in Osaka

Sumiyoshi Taisha is one of the most important Japanese shrines. Though nowadays it lies in the boundaries of Osaka city, historically it has been more connected to the city of Sakai.The name of the latter means “the border,” and comes from the meeting point of three provinces.

During Sumiyoshi Festival, participants cross another border. They ford the Yamato River carrying a portable shrine mikoshi on their shoulders.

Jun 062012
Otaue Matsuri – planting rice on a sacred field

When rice planting is coming to an end, just before the rainy season, ceremonies for abundant growth are held in major Japanese shrines.

One such colorful event takes place in Taga Taisha, close to Hikone in Shiga Prefecture. Without machines, accompanied by rituals of shinto priests and shamans, as well as performances of local artists, a sacred field belonging to a shrine is planted with rice.