First Reiwa Year and Awata Matsuri!
Our shop’s Ujigami (local patron Shinto deity) is enshrined at Awata Shrine. Recently, it has gained popularity as a sacred place for fans of the game, Touken Ranbu (Sword Dance), and is visited by many every day.Awata Matsuri is the largest festival event at Awata Shrine and at last、it is that time of year again.
Dating back 1,000 years, it is said that the Awata Festival took the place of the Gion Festival when it could not be organized during the Muromachi period. Awata Matsuri has a long history, but recently it is showing signs of things new
The god event is held from the evening of the 12th. There will be night food stalls operated by the Westin Miyako Hotel, a parishioner. Visitors can watch Iwami Kagura (ancient Shinto music and dance) of Yamata-no-Orochi (mythological eight-headed serpent) dedicated to the shrine god while enjoying delicious food.
（Most unfortunately, the god event on the 12th has been cancelled due to the approaching Typhoon 19.）
From the evening of the 13th, the shrine god will be invited to the sacred grounds in front of Chion-in. A unique celebration of gratitude to the god and Buddha by Chion-in’s monks and Awata Shrine’s chief priests will be held. Later there will be a parade of Lantern Floats created by students of Kyoto University of Art and Design. The glow of the lanterns against the blackness of night is truly quite breathtaking. In fact, it is said that this was the origin of the Aomori Nebuta Festival !?
The 14th is the last the day of the Shinko Festival. Last year, it was the first time for me to carry the Omikoshi (portable shrine in which the shrine god temporarily resides and which is carried by parishioners throughout the neighborhood). A table was set up In front of our store with beer, water, etc., for the Omikoshi carriers. The most impressive event called Mitami-nuki or the returning of the Holy Spirit (returning the shrine god from the portable shrine to the main shrine) was performed after the Omikoshi was safely returned to the shrine grounds. At this time, all the lights of the shrine are extinguished, the shrine covered with white cloth, and the symbolic body of the god returned to the main hall. I clearly remember how deeply moved I was by this event, in part due to the keen sense of accomplishment I had from carrying the portable shrine for most of the day as well as from my reawakened sense of the sheer sacredness of the festival.
This year I will carry the shrine with our craftsmen. I will give it my all again this year, keeping in mind the sense of anticipation and challenge of last year.
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