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AND OR

Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Rituals in Okinawa and Amami
Noro
The senior priestess in villages in Amami and Okinawa. "Noro" means "to pray" and also "a person who prays." Norokumoi and norokumo also are used, with kumoi and kumo being honorifics. In the twelfth century clan chieftains called aji ruled over the Ryūkyū archipelago which was divided into the domains of the various aji. The noro originate in the women who acted as onarigami ("sister-deity;" a female figure who functions as a protective force for male members of her family/clan) to an aji and during the twelfth century turned into the supreme officiants in the territory ruled by their aji. As this position took root within the political structure and society, the term noro also popularized. After the establishment of the Ryūkyū Kingdom, the noro, for political reasons, were systematized into a female priesthood with the Kikoe ōkimi, the king's onarigami, at the apex. Noro were then appointed officially by the court and assigned to certain districts. After the fall of the monarchy, the prefectural governor made the appointments. Noro succession within the family was the basic rule in the patrilineal society, and the position was passed to a niece, a grand-daughter or a daughter. Later daughter-in-law succession also became widespread. Some places decide the successor by lottery. The noro lives in a house called the noro donnochi (also called dunchi), near the utaki. At Miyako and Yaeyama, the noro is more commonly called shikasa.

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