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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Matsuri Procession Otoshi Shrine in Tsunozu

祭りの行列mikoshi being carried down the steps Yesterday was Harvest Matsuri at Otoshi Shrine in Tsunozu, Shimane.

Following an all-night performance of kagura, in the late morning a ceremony is held in the shrine followed by the procession of mikoshi around the community.

mikoshi leaving the shrine A mikoshi is known as "portable shrine", but more accurately they are "sacred palanquins" which carry the gods from the shrine around the community. Mikoshi vary in size and splendor, but they are all heavy and require the services of many strong men to carry them.

Childrens mikoshi The children have their own mikoshi, though obviously much lighter. Matsuri is fun, as can be seen in the kids' faces.

Tengu The procession is led by a Tengu, a phallic-nosed forest goblin closely associated with Yamabushi, the mountain ascetics who in earlier times were the majority of priests in many areas.

Shi-Shi The tengu is followed by a Shi-shi, or Chinese lion.

Taiko drummer Next comes the Taiko drum and drummer on their own purpose-built trolley. Please note that here in "Safety Japan" it is a requirement that seat belts be worn on Taiko Trolleys!

Shinto priests Coming up near the rear are the priests and assistants.

 3 shrine maidens The rearguard to the procession are three Miko, shrine maidens.

These three junior high schoolgirls had danced during the ceremony at the shrine before the procession began.

In earlier times only pre-pubescent girls could be Miko, then later the restriction became only vigins. Nowadays the only restriction is she must be unmarried.

Buy tasteful interior decoration paper lanterns.

Buy festival happi coats direct from Japan

Buy tengu goblin masks direct from Japan

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