Sunday, May 13, 2018

Unoha Shinji - Bugaku at Sumiyoshi Shrine


Every year, the week after Golden Week (based on the lunar calendar and the sign of the rabbit), Sumiyoshi Shrine in Osaka holds an event called the Unoha Shinji. This ceremony celebrates the founding of Sumiyoshi Shrine (which is said to have been founded in the year 211).

The shrine begins the ceremony with an offering of a tamagushi (玉串, a sacred tree branch with shide paper stripes) is presented to the gods by a kannushi, Shinto priest.

The name of this ritual refers to the "rabbit leaf flower" which is also translated as a "deutzia."

The ceremony is conducted on the ishibutai, or stone stage. The ishibutai is an interesting architectural feature. There are only three such stone stages in Japan; Sumiyoshi Shrine (Osaka), Shitennoji Temple (Osaka) and Itsukushima Shrine (near Hiroshima, on Miyajima). There is also a monument called "ishibutai" in Asuka village of Nara prefecture, but that is just a nickname given to the exposed stonework of a nobleman's ruined burial mound because the large horizontal stone resembles these stone stages.
The single large stone of stone which spans over a pond (representing the separation of the mortal realm with the spiritual realm) is a large and costly monument, which is why so few of them exist. The ishibutai at Sumiyoshi shrine was sponsored by the lord Toyotomi Hideyori (son of Hideyoshi, the builder of Osaka Castle) in about the year 1600 and the ishibutai is designated as an "important cultural property of Japan" (Kuni no Jyuuyou bunkazai /  国の重要文化財).

The bugaku program this year (performed by a bugaku group from Shitennoji) included the presentation of five performances.
  1. Enbu えんぶ
  2. Torika 桃李花
  3. Ninnaraku 仁和楽
  4. Batou ばとう
  5. Chougeishi 長げいし
The following photo journal is from 5/11/2018.

Exit of the ”Torika” (Enbu?) performer, holding his spear.

One of the performers for the "Chougeishi" dance.

Note that this dance is performed with four dancers.

Note the lacquered horsehair blinders worn by the performers.

Note the differentiated right shoulder garments that is worn for this dance.

A squatting stance.

A bow drawing stance.

Lacquered horsehair blinders.

"Ninnaraku" dance.

Note the unusual hats.

Note the (5-7-5) go-shichi-go-kirimon crest on his hat.
Note the temporary fence of the stage that is set up on the ishibutai. 
Note the right shoulder has a special design.

The "batou" dance.

Note the fearsome looking mask.

The "Batou" dancer hold a scroll.

Shot using a cicular polarizing lens filter which can be used to reduce the glare from the shiny mask, but the reflection help give definition to the shape of the face; adjust the filter's angle to get some photos of either type.

Note the long tail on the robe.

Dramatic hand gesture.

The famous "taiko-bashi" bridge of Sumiyoshi shrine.

A tree with a shimanawa rope.