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Hosaku

Cultural Quintessence

Japan In-depth

Kateigaho International Edition

Hosaku
Bountiful harvest

A great many matsuri are related to agriculture, particularly the cultivation of rice, the very foundation of traditional Japanese culture. At each phase of the growing cycle, the deities are invoked to bless and protect the crops, and grant an eventual hosaku, bountiful harvest. Summer rites appeal for beneficial weather, adequate rainfall and protection from harmful pests and natural disasters.

Sumiyoshi-no O-Taue Sai

Suneori Amagoi

Yata-no Mushi Okuri

Mizudome-no Mai

A costumed child musician plays the bamboo bozasara as part of the instrumental accompaniment to a dragon dance, performed in a bid to end the rainy season of early summer.

Sumiyoshi-no O-Taue Sai

During Sumiyoshi Shrine's Rice Planting Festival, eight ceremonial maidens called ue-me, wearing hana-gasa hats decorated with paper representations of cotton flowers, legendary dispellers of thunder, carry sanctified rice seedlings in procession to the shrine rice paddy. Shimo ue-me, planting girls dressed in white, red, and indigo field clothes and wearing straw hats, plant the seedlings to the accompaniment of traditional rice-planting songs and dances performed on a nearby stage and around the field to entertain both gods and onlookers.

Sumiyoshi-no O-Taue Sai
Dates: June 14
Place: Sumiyoshi Taisha, 2-9-89 Sumiyoshi,Sumiyoshi-ku, Osaka
Tel. 06-6672-0753 (General Affairs Office of Sumiyoshi Shrine)

Suneori Amagoi

In supplication for sufficient rain for the continuing growth of the rice crop, Tsurugashima-machi honors the legendary water-loving serpent said to have once lived in Kandachi Pond. Townfolk construct a giant bamboo-and-straw snake, parading it into the water, symbolically taking it back to its original dwelling place. Inside its great mouth are an ofuda charm from Kandachi Shrine and the Shinto zig-zag-folded paper shide and sprig of evergreen sakaki which mark the creature as sacred.

Suneori Amagoi
Dates: August 1
Place: Kandachi pond, 5-22-1 Suneori-cho, Tsurugashima-shi, Saitama; and other locales in the city.
Tel. 049-285-2194 (Education Committee of Tsurugashima-shi)

Yata-no Mushi Okuri

Insects, mushi, are the bane of rice fields in summer, and the village of Sobue-cho still preserves an eight-century-old mushi okuri ritual to banish them. A rice-straw effigy of a mounted horseman is dubbed Sanemori-san for the ancient warrior Heike Sanemori who was captured by Genji because he stumbled on rice stubble, and whose spirit in grudge tranformed itself into an insect. Paraded by torchlight through the fields, the effigy is finally burned, along with the insects drawn to the flames.

Yata-no Mushi Okuri
Dates: July 3
Place: From Hachiman-sha to Yatagawa in Yata, Tokoname-shi.Aichi
Tel. 0569-35-5111 (Education Committee of Tokoname-shi)

Mizudome-no Mai

Gonsho-ji's Stop-the-Rain Festival has been passed down from the 15th century when it was first held in supplication to the dragon god to bring torrential rains to an end. Here the role-playing "dragon god" blowing a conch shell hora-gai, is wrapped in a straw snake, for its traditional association with water. As he is rolled and dragged around the grounds, onlookers splash him with more and more water to pay their respects, until finally they symbolically decide, "No more!"

Mizudome-no Mai
Dates: July 14
Place: 3-7-27 Gonshoji, Oomori Higashi,Oota-ku, Tokyo
Tel. 03-3761-4945 (Gonshoji)



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