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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Rituals in Daily Life
Tsukimachi, Himachi
"Waiting for the Moon," and "Waiting for the Sun.""Waiting for the moon" is an occasion when people gather on particular evenings of a lunar cycle (e.g. the seventeenth, nineteenth, twenty second, and twenty third) to eat, drink, and pay homage to the moon as they wait for it to appear. The gatherings are often organized by religious organizations known as , whose members assemble at their established meeting place (tōya, usually the organizer's home), hang a scroll of the moon god, Tsukuyomi no Mikoto, in the tokonoma alcove, light (a) votive candle(s), and wait for the moon to appear. The idea of installing Tsukuyomi no Mikoto as an object of worship (saijin) is a product of the modern era and reflects the influence of Edo Period Shintō scholars; originally, the moon itself was worshipped as the avatar of the kami (shintai). The designation for moon-waiting groups accords with the day of the cycle on which they assemble; examples include: the jūshichiya-kō (Confraternity of the seventeenth night), jūkuya-kō (Confraternity of the nineteenth night), the nijūniya-kō (Confraternity of the twenty second night), and the nijūsan'ya-kō (Confraternity of the twenty third night). The last of these is the most widespread and is also called san'ya-machi (third night waiting), san'ya-sama (honored third night), and sanya-kuyō (third-night memorial service). A tower erected for the twenty-third night gathering can often be found in a remote corner of many villages and hamlets. Moon-waiting confraternities that meet every month are rare; they are usually held only in the months of January, May, September, and November.
       Sun-waiting is an occasion when the faithful gather on special days, as determined by the Chinese zodiac, such as Ka-no-e-saru (also read kōshin; a special day in the sexagenary cycle on which the day of the monkey and the element metal fall together), Ki-no-e-ne (a special day in the sexagenary, on which the day of the rat and the element wood fall together), and Mi (day of the snake). They hold an all-night vigil and then worship the dawn. Because at both moon-waiting and sun-waiting events participants are required to make ablutions, to take baths, and to don clean clothes, scholars believe that such events were originally rituals of abstinence and spiritual purification (shōjin-kessai).

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