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Rituals in Daily Life


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§Life-cycle Rituals and Occupational Rituals

Generally, Japanese matsuri can be divided into events that are repeated in yearly cycles, and rites of passage that are conducted when an individual encounters changes in rank, status, or space. Rituals which are conducted to accompany the individual growth process and other life-cycle rituals, st...

Chōyō

"The Chrysanthemum Festival"; Held on the ninth day of the ninth month (September 9), this was another of the five seasonal feasts (gosekku) recognized and established by the Tokugawa Shogunate. It is also generally known as kiku no sekku (the Chrysanthemum Festival). Because the number nine is the...

Ehō

The most auspicious geomantic direction for the given year; the geomantic direction inhabited by Toshitokushin (a.k.a. the ehōgami) in that year. Also referred to as the "auspicious direction" (kippō) or "elder direction" (ehō), it is also sometimes also called the "bright direction"...

En'nichi

This word is used at both Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, but in Shinto it refers to a day that holds special meaning for a particular shrine such as its founding day, the day the Shrine's "enshrined kami" (saijin) descended, a day an important oath was taken, or any other such day of ritual i...

Hana matsuri

"Flower Festival." In Buddhism the kanbutsue festival, which is also called hana matsuri, is held to celebrate the anniversary of Buddha's birthday on the eighth day of the fourth month of the old lunar calendar, but this term (hana matsuri) was introduced by the Pure Land (Jōdoshū) sect ...

Hatsumiyamōde

"First shrine visit," this term refers to the first pilgrimage to the tutelary deity (ujigami) after the birth of a child. It is also more simply called miyamairi. It is also referred to with terms such as hiake, hibare, ubuake, shimeage, which mean that on this day the newborn child's period of ta...

Hatsumōde

This term refers to the visit of a shrine or a temple (sankei) at the beginning of a new year. In a narrow sense it refers to the visit on New Year's Day. Today it is very often the case that people visit shrines and temples from midnight on New Year's Eve in order to hear the temple bells ringing ...

Hatsuuma

"First Horse Day Festival." This term refers to the event that is held on the first day of the horse in February. It is the custom to worship Inari all over Japan, and beginning with Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyōto and Toyokawa Inari in Aichi Prefecture, shrines in all regions hold First Horse D...

Jichinsai

"Ground-purification rites." Also read "tokoshizume no matsuri." At the commencement of civil engineering or architectural projects, this ritual is performed to pray that the project proceeds safely and smoothly, and to pray that no structural problems arise after its completion. Other names for th...

Jinjitsu

One of the seasonal festival days; the seventh day of the New Year or the seventh of January. It is one of the "five seasonal festival holidays" established by the Edo bakufu. Because people celebrate by making and eating the nanakusagayu (seven grass soup) on this day, it is often called the nanak...

Jōshi

Formal name for the seasonal festival taking place on the third day of the third month; also called genshi and jōmi. This was one of five seasonal celebrations (gosekku) established as holidays by the Edo shogunate. This celebration is ordinarily called the hinamatsuri (Doll Festival) or the m...

Jōtōsai

An architectural ritual; also called the 'muneage' (roof-raising). This ritual is performed during construction of a new building to pray that there will be no problems with the new building's roof during or after construction. References to jōtōsai in some Nara period literature, and is ...

Joyasai

An event held at a shrine during the night on December 31st, New Year's Eve (ōmisoka); also called the Toshikoshi matsuri. Joya refers to the "night" of "jonichi," (another word for ōmisoka). Until the late Kamakura period, the Imperial Court commissioned a yin yang master to perform an e...

Kanreki

One's "sixtieth" birthday, or alternately one's "sixty first" calendar year (Traditionally in Japan, when a person was born they were said to be "one," and at every New Year's day thereafter turn a "year" older. This leads to an age count that is usually one or possibly two years greater than one's...

Kaza-matsuri

A village communal ritual conducted on approximately the two-hundred and tenth day of the year, or around "hatsusaku" (first day of the eighth month by the old calendar) in order to avert damaging winds. Also referred to as Kazahimachi. Counting from the beginning of spring (the fourth day of the s...

Nagoshi no harae

Also called nagoshi, minatsuki barae, or aranigo no harae. This term refers to the "great purification" (ōharae) that is performed on the last day of the sixth month of the lunar calendar. Since antiquity, with the adoption of the ritsuryō system, a great purification was held at the impe...

Nenjū gyōji

"Annual events," a general term for the communal events that are held by people at the same time every year. Many of these observances have religious elements and even today not a few of them have a close connection to Shintō, such as hatsumōde, setsubun, and so forth. The term nenjū...

Nijūshi sekki

"The twenty-four seasonal divides (sekki)." Established to make an exact distinction between the year's changing seasons, the nijūshi sekki constitute a calendar divided into twenty-four points beginning with risshun ("the beginning of spring") and ending with daikan ("the coldest season"). Th...

Reisai, nensai

This term refers to one of the events performed for the ancestral spirits (soreisai) in Shintō. This event is held a certain number of years after the funeral to remember the spirit of the deceased and is an equivalent to the Buddhist memorial service (nenki hōyō). In Shintō it ...

Sagichō

This is the fire festival event usually held on the fifteenth of January. It can be found throughout most of the country, but is referred to by different names (including tondo, dondonyaki, saitōyaki, bokkengyō, and sankurōyaki) depending on the region. There is also a fair amount of...



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