Encyclopedia of Shinto

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カテゴリー1: 5. Rites and Festivals
カテゴリー2: State Rites
Michiae no matsuri
"Festival of the Road Gods". A ceremony performed in the ancient period, as stipulated by the Divinities Prescriptions (Jingiryō). Intended to prevent evil spirits such as demons and epidemic gods (ekishin) from entering the capital, it was performed on the roads (ōji) bordering Kyoto in each of the four directions. Although it is unclear when the festival started, but its formal features suggest a close relationship to the introduction of capital cities, probably dating back to the founding of the Fujiwara Palace in Nara at the end of the seventh century. Judging from the fact that the festival was performed by diviners (urabe) from the Department of Divinities (Jingikan), who used ritual implements made of fur, elements of the festival had strong elements of yin-yang divination onmyōdō. Due to a variety of factors, among which the promotion of the Festival of the Four Directions (Shikaku sai) and other similar observances, Michiae no matsuri gradually disappeared during the mid-Heian period, and so did references to it in historical records. The Explanations of the Prescriptions (Ryō no gige) notes that Michiae no masuri was a ceremony which aimed to prevent calamity-causing demons from entering the capital by intercepting and entertaining them in the streets. On the other hand, the norito prayer recorded in the Engi Regulations (Engi Shiki) for this festival indicates that the three deities it celebrated were Yachimata-hiko and the other road deities, thus providing a different interpretation from the one above.
— Namiki Kazuko

Pronunciation in Japanese/用語音声

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