Posts

Showing posts from February, 2013

Setsubun Kagura - Japanese Storm God vs Giant Serpent

Image
Setsubun is a Japanese Spring Ritual where Japanese drive away bad luck and evil. At a small shrine in Matsuyama, Shikoku they perform a sacred dance known as kagura which depicts an old legend of Susanoo no Mikoto the Japanese god of Storms fighting a giant evil serpent Yamata no Orochi.
Susanoo no Mikoto is the Japanese god of storms and is known as the Impetus Male for his erratic behavior. He caused great distress on the Heavenly Plains by causing his sister, Amaterasu Omikami, the sun goddess to flee into a cave thus plunging all into darkness. The other gods were able to get Amaterasu out of the cave and bring sunlight back. The gods decided to exile the troublesome Susanoo to the underworld of the dead Yomi.
On his way to Yomi, Susanoo encountered two earthy deities who were in distress. A great 8-headed serpent known as Yamata no Orochi devoured their daughters and he was returning to consume their last one. Susanoo decided to save their daughter. In the kagura version of the…

Japanese Devils Beat People for Good Luck on Setsubun

Image
Setsubun is a Japanese Spring Ritual where on the 3rd of February Japanese drive bad luck in the form of devils from their homes. At many temples and shrines throughout Japan, Setsubun activities take place. At Ishite-ji Temple in Matsuyama city on the island of Shikoku they have an interesting twist on the typical Setsubun activity of driving away devils.
Usually on Setsubun devils known as Oni are driven away by beans thrown at them. Japanese say at the same time "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" which means "devils out, good luck in!" At Ishite-ji Temple, the devils actually bring the good luck to people in the shape of bamboo staffs that they use to beat people lightly in a rhythmic cadence.
The staff they use is a variation of a keisaku stick which is used in meditation sessions of Zen Buddhism. Keisaku is a "warning stick" wielded by a Zen priest known as a Jikijitsu who is in charge of the zazen meditation sessions at Zen Temples. If a student is falling …

Wakakusayama Yaki - Japanese Mountain Fire Festival

Image
Wakakusayama Yaki is an annual Japanese fire festival in winter where they burn the dead grass on Mt. Wakakusa. The origins of the festival are unclear. The most popular explanation is that the fire festival came out of a territorial dispute between two local temples. Others say the fire was more practical in driving off wild animals and insects.
Whatever the origin, it's a sight to see. Before the fire, they set off 200 fireworks. They also have a live show which being Japan is always entertaining and amusing.