- Living in harmony with the four seasons, the people of the country of rice – Japanese Shinto Rituals.
Living in harmony with the four seasons, the people of the country of rice – Japanese Shinto Rituals.
Sumiyoshi Taisha Grand Shrine is located right in the center of the metropolis of Osaka. The Grand Shrine is famous for the spectacular vermilion railings of its Soribashi Bridge and for its inner shrine, which is a beautiful example of the sumiyoshi-zukuri architectural method. In June each year, the grand shrine also holds “Otaue Shinji,” a rice planting ceremony in honor of the gods of the rice fields.
All over Japan, ceremonies are held to enhance the vitality of the rice grain, which dwells both in the rice fields and seedlings themselves. Music is played, songs are sung, and various types of dances are performed as the rice is planted. All of the nationwide ceremonies along with the Sumiyoshi Taisha Grand Shrine’s “Otaue Shinji,” are considered Japan’s most important rice planting Shinto ritual. They have been performed without interruption, faithfully observing Japanese tradition for over 1800 years.
To commence the Otaue Shinji, rice seedlings are purified in the inner shrine. Women known as “ueme” (planting maidens) receive the seedlings and join a procession that makes its way to the rice field. Holy water is poured onto the rice field to cleanse it, the seedlings are handed from the ueme to “kaeueme” (substitute planting maidens), and the rice planting begins.
During the planting, kagurame (shrine maidens) dressed in decorative headgear, perform dances on a stage in the middle of the field. Adults and children perform songs and dances as offerings to convey a life force to the rice seedlings and the field.
Since ancient times, the Japanese people have considered rice a special grain. In certain ages, rice had been used in place of currency, triggered wars and disputes, and has been worshiped as something precious in which the gods reside. It is sometimes said that rice is the very soul of the Japanese people.
The Otaue Shinji is a Shinto ritual carried out by both the gods and the Japanese people who pray for a bountiful harvest each year.
2-9, Sumiyoshi, Sumiyoshi-ki, Osaka-city, Osaka