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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Individual Shrine Observances
Yomisashi Matsuri
Prior to many festivals, many rites (shinji) set up a sakaki sacred tree. The rite called yomisashi festival takes place on October 6 at Ōmiya Shrine in Iwade Town, Naga County, Wakayama Prefecture. Yomisashi means entry into the sacred period of a festival and also the rite of marking the spatial range of a festival by setting up purified sakaki branches at important places, such as the village border. At midnight when the lights of the houses are out, Shinto priests (shinshoku) and young men run to the temporary shrines (otabisho) of East and West and set up a large sakaki, reciting a prayer (norito). Sakaki leaves are believed to be effective for all illnesses and people rush to grab them.
       The naked (hadaka) festival (held on the tenth day of the eighth month in the old calendar) of Yanahime Shrine in Iwata city, Shizuoka Prefecture also includes a rite to set up sakaki called "mishiba oroshi." A week prior to the festival, during the night he lights of the houses in the region are turned off and 30 young men dressed in starched white clothes (hakuchō) run around town, setting up sakaki branches (omishiba-sama) and reciting prayers at thirteen different places.

—Mogi Sakae
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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