Sunday, April 15, 2018

Omiwa Spring Festival Parade

春の大神社の祭

Omiwa Shrine has an annual spring festival and parade. The festival has events that are conducted over a three day period in early April.

The first day consists of a shrine dedication ceremony, wakamiya (若宮) from 10:00 which involves are priestly procession. Later, from 17:00, there is the "yoimiya" (宵宮) which is a pre-festival vigil with offerings being presented to the shrine, festival preparations being made and food stalls being set up along the path to the shrine.

The second day is the annual festival ("reisai" 例祭). The main event of the festival is a shrine parade which escorts a portable shrine as the spirit of the shrine tours the neighboring area to confer blessings upon the area. These portable shrine events are called jinkousai (神幸祭) and the Omiwa shrine jinkousai is interesting in that it involves over 60 people who dress in period costumes, ride horses, carry the portable shrine and show off other historical relics.

The final day of the festival involves the goen matsuri, which is a post-ceremony banquet involving traditional shrine performances, most notably, Omiwa shrine has a noh performance in the afternoon which is free to watch.

For 2018, the parade was held on April 9th (a Monday) from 13:00.

Parade participants standby as prayers are offered in a ceremony before the parade sets out.
Note the large Japanese cedar tree (sugi / 杉 / cryptomeria) which has a small altar and is wrapped with shimanawa rope and shide papers.  

A large shrine to Mt. Miwa, which is featured specifically in Japanese myths about the god Omo-no-nushi.
Omiwa is reputated to be one of the oldest shrines in Japan.
Note the Kiku-mon crest which denotes a connection to the imperial family.

Men in samurai armor wait to follow the procession, going to the steps of the temple they will then mount horses.

The banners on their backs specify the name of the shrine, Miwa Myojin.

Men carryinh bows and quivers.
Note the shrine insignia on the banners, three leaves.
Note the Kiku-mon seal on the lanterns.
There is also a banner in the backgound which announces the date for this event.

The parade. Some people ride on horseback as they move through narrow residential streets near the shrine.

Wooden spears with banners that bear the imperial seal.

A foreigner participating in the parade.

The parade passing along a straight stretch of road.

One of the landmarks along the parade route.
This is a small temple for the Tenri Sect of Buddhism.
Sakurai city is near the headquaters of the Tenri Sect and you can see many Buddhist dormitories and temples near Tenri station which is north of this area.

Kids waiting for a ceremony to finish at a small shrine that serves as a rest area for the parade procession.

A special shrine at the Omiwa shrine complex.
This parking lot offers a special service in which you can pay to have your car exorcised at maleficent spirits and protected by special charms (there are several other shrines in Kansai that offer similar servies, such as Matsuo and Omi Jingu shrines in Kyoto). 

A tengu wearing tall geta.
Usually these tall geta are known are "tengu geta" (if there is only one "tooth" but these geta have two "teeth" each).

Wearing a mask and walking on the tall geta seems uncomfortable.

Carrying a special talisman while on horseback.

These types of wooden shields were common in the Asuka period when this area played an important part in court life.
You can also see shields like this during the period parades in Kyoto, such as the Jidai Matsuri.

A horse carrying a special talisman on its back.
Note the large shide that is made of gold-colored paper.

Getting ready to dismount in the parking lot.

A miniature version of yabusame, horseback archery.

The huge outer gate (dai-torii) of Omiwa shrine.
It is 32.3 meters tall and weighs 185 tons.
You can see it towering over the cars that are passing underneath.
Built in 1984.



References
http://oomiwa.or.jp/info/matsuri/info_4gatsu/
https://www.quora.com/What-societies-have-fought-only-with-swords-no-shields-and-how-did-they-do-it
https://forums.ubi.com/showthread.php/1462911-Shield-Samurai-Forums/page2
https://kansaiculture.blogspot.jp/2018/03/april-2018-upcoming-kansai-events.html
https://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/spot/shritemp/o-miwa-shrine.html
https://www.visitnara.jp/venues/A00515/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%8Cmononushi
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miwa_Shrine_(disambiguation)

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