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
Akutai matsuri
"Cursing festival". At the akutai matsuri held at the Atago Shrine in Iwama-chō, Nishi Ibaragi-gun, Ibaragi Prefecture on December 14 (formerly, the fourteenth day of the eleventh month of the lunar calendar), participants verbally abuse each other as they proceed to the mountaintop shrine of Mt. Atago. At the shrine they trade insults with a person impersonating a tengu (mountain goblin). Winning in the exchange is believed to bring good fortune in the coming year.
A variant of the akutai matsuri can be found at the yuki matsuri (Snow Festival) held on January 14 and 15 at the Izu Shrine in Niino, Anan-chō, Shimoina-gun, Nagano Prefecture and also at the fuyu matsuri (Winter Festivall) of Sakabe, Tenryū-chō in the same district, where a negi (Shinto priest) engages in a question and answer session with a demon (mountain god yama no kami). The performance ends with the priest getting the better of the demon and gaining possession of the latter's treasure staff.
On January 5, an akutai matsuri takes place at the Haushiwake Shrine in Yasawagi, Ōmori-chō, Hiraka-gun, Akita Prefecture, where worshippers take turns insulting each other. The winners are believed to be blessed with good fortune during that year. Also called akkō matsuri ("bad-mouthing festivals"), akutai matsuri held at the beginning of the year are used as a means of divination for the new year (toshiura). It is said that during the kezurikake (or okera) festival celebrated in Gion, Kyoto (in which branches of willow or cypress were shaved to resemble ears of reed), visitors to the Yasaka (Gion) Shrine used to shout at each other words obscene enough to embarrass parents and children attending the event together. Again, it was believed that a year of good fortune was awaiting those who defeated their opponents.
The custom of abusing one another and bragging on the evening of December 10 and during the festival held on the preceding day at the Hisawadake Shrine, located within the precincts of the Hisawa Shrine in Nanmoku Village, Kanra-gun, Gunma Prefecture, was also called akutai matsuri. It was said that allowing oneself to become angry because of the insults would have negative effects on the participant's silkworm production in the new year. At present, ritual climbing of the mountain takes place as a spring observance.  
— Mogi Sakae

Pronunciation in Japanese/用語音声

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