Encyclopedia of Shinto

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カテゴリー1: 5. Rites and Festivals
カテゴリー2: Individual Shrine Observances
Kurayami Matsuri
"In the dark festival." Held on the evening of May 5 at the Ōkunitama Shrine in Fuchū City, Tokyo Prefecture. The shrine's main annual rite, it is preceded on April 30 by a purification ceremony (see harae) held on the waters offshore of Tokyo's Shinagawa Ward; a mirror polishing ceremony on May 2; a horse-race ceremony (see kurabe-uma) the evening of the 3rd, and a rope-hanging ceremony on the 4th. The main festival got its name because, until the late 1950s, it involved eight shin'yo (portable shrines) making their way to the otabisho (temporary resting spot) at night amid a total blackout. The portable shrines were accompanied by a wagon carrying large drums. In the present day, the eight shin'yo leave the main shrine around 3 p.m. and gather at the otabisho at 10 p.m. The chief priest (gūji), shrine priests (shinshoku), and festival directors head for the Noguchi okariya (another word for otabisho) for a rite in which they sit in a circle and receive tea and chimaki, or steamed rice cakes wrapped in bamboo leaves. The lady of the house, dressed up to appear pregnant, lies face down during this rite. This comes from a tradition which holds that Ōkuninushinomikoto, the enshrined kami (see saijin), arrived in this area to request lodging for one night. He was refused at Yorozuya, the first place he stopped, on the grounds that it was an inauspicious (or taboo) day. At Noguchiya, he was told the birth of a child seemed imminent and thus he might be exposed to pollution, but if he had no objections to this he was welcome to stay. Ōkuninushinomikoto replied, "Birth is not taboo," and spent the night. At dawn on the 6th, the shin'yo return to the main shrine, jostling one another brightly lit in a complete change from the previous night by numerous blazing lanterns and torches.
— Mogi Sakae

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A night procession through Fuchū City._Ichida Masataka___2001****_Tokyo