A celebration for rebuilding “Kasuga Taisha”, built in Nara 1300 years ago.

A ceremony for rebuilding the main shrine called the “60th Shikinenzoutai”, was held in Nara on the 17th and 18th of October. This dedicatory parade was to offer hiwada (cypress bark) and sand, and is held every 20 years. Local people and contributors from all over Japan offer hiwada to repair the roof, and sand to spread in the inner shrine and rear hall.

  Destinations, Nara,

Hiwada dedicatory parade for offering sand


【 CONTENTS 】

Starting point

Exorcism.
Exorcism.
Ise-dochu-uta
Singing the song, “Ise-dochu-uta” while parading.

Departing Ceremony

At 10 am, the departing ceremony was held in Nara Park, Nobori Ojienji. Once I got to the ceremony, there were variety of people; people in costumes from Nara period, Kasuga Taisha Miko (shrine maidens), and visitors from all over Japan. The president of the service association and the chief priest of Kasuga Taisha gave a greeting to everyone and exorcised the evil spirits. They then explained the song of “Ise-douchu-uta”, which has been passed down through generations at the Mitsue village in Nara. We also practiced how to sing the song during the parade, and how to clap our hands.

Departure

Kasuga Taisha Miko

The crest of the Fujiwara Family
The crest of the Fujiwara Family on the back.

Let’s start the parade!

While departing from the shrine, Miko handed out small bags of white sand to us.
This sand will be spread in the main shrine and the rear hall. A string was attached to the bag, so we could wear it around our necks. Hiwada were carried by 4 mikoshi through the Ichinotorii and Ninotorii gates, and then down a 1.5 kilometer road. I followed the parade from the rear and noticed the crest of the Fujiwara Family on their backs.

Ichinotorii gate
Ichinotorii gate

Lion dance

Deer
Curious deer
Lion dance
Lion dance
Deer
Deer were also following the parade to the main shrine.

I Bumped into deer on the way to Kasuga Taisha.

After passing the Ichinotorii gate and entering the Kasuga Taisha pathway, I saw a lot of deer walking towards the shrine. Cheerful voices shouting “Yoisho” and the sound of flutes and drums were echoing in the silent approach. The lion dance, or “Shishimai”, was performed to the song Ise-douchu-uta, and it felt so festive! Deer were curiously looking at us, because it’s unusual to them. Some of the deer even followed us to the shrine.

Ninotorii gate
Ninotorii gate
Tenpyo-gyoretsu parade
Tenpyo-gyoretsu parade
Offering sand
Offering sand
Mikoshi
Carrying the hiwada to the main shrine on Mikoshi
In front of the main shrine
Celebrating the arrival!

Praying to the god of Daijin-sama and celebrating the arrival!

We passed through the Ninotori gate and offered the sand we were carrying by putting it into barrels. The 4 mikoshi also arrived in front of the main shrine. They offered the song and words for celebration. The 60th Shikinezoutai ceremony starts in 2015, after finishing the pre-Kadensenzasai festival, and will finish in 2016 after the Hondensenzasai festival. The shrine is currently under repair for the Hondensenzasai festival in the coming next year, so we offered hiwada and sand for repairing the shrine next year. I was so happy to see the Shinenzoutai ceremony, only held every 20 years since the Kasuga Taisha was built 1300 years ago.

Map

160 Kasuganocho, Nara, Nara Prefecture

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AUTHOR

kyoami

kyoami

Writer/ Translator

I love Japanese folkcraft article, traditional handicrafts and antiques. I’m seeking the Japanese people’s religious outlooks and its origins that are behind Japanese people’s unique sense and techniques rooted in the ordinary life.

Information

Address 160 Kasuganocho, Nara, Nara Prefecture
Hours Summer(April to September)6:00~18:00 Winter(October to March)6:30~17:00 Special visits to the Main Shrine are available between 8:30 to 16:00
Price 500yen entrance fee
Close 8 March to 13 March / 20 December to 7 January.
Access ・About 11 to 15 minutes by bus. In front of the stop “Kasuga Taisha Honden”. Bus departs from JR Yamatoji line & Nara Kintetsu lines, “Nara”station. ・About 9 to 13 min by Nara Kotsu bus. 10 min walk from the “Kasuga Taisha Hondenm” stop. ・25 min by foot from the Kintetsu Nara line“Nara”station.
Phone 0742-22-7788
Website http://www.kasugataisha.or.jp/about/index_en.html