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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Rituals in Daily Life
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 highest odd (Yang) digit, the Chinese thought of the ninth day of the ninth lunar month to be auspicious and called it Chongyang ("double Yang"). They would sit outdoors drinking rice wine with chrysanthemum petals floating on the surface; and in order to ward off evil, they would wear pouches containing oleaster (gumi). As can be seen in the Nihon Shoki, in Japan too, the date has long been considered auspicious: in the fourteenth year of Emperor Temmu's reign (685) the day was celebrated with a banquet. Thereafter, the Chinese customs of chrysanthemum-petal wine and oleaster pouches were adopted. Another custom that developed was that of draping chrysanthemum blossoms with cotton cloth; this "Chrysanthemum cloth" (kiku-wata) was then used to wipe the body as a ritualized wish for perpetual youth. This custom, however, died out at the end of the Heian Period. As a folk celebration, the occasion fell during the period of relaxation following the end of the grueling harvest and was celebrated as a harvest festival known variously as okunchi and okunichi ("the ninth"). In some areas, giving chestnuts is also customary, thus the day is also sometimes called kuri-sekku. There are many chōyō events associated with chrysanthemums, and there are also chrysanthemum fairs. In the Kyushu region, there are numerous autumn festivals called okunchi, but they are not all celebrated on September ninth.

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