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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Rituals in Daily Life
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 imperial court on the last day of the sixth and twelfth months. Also at the folk shrines the great purification was enthusiastically performed twice a year. The great purification at the court briefly came to an end as a result of the Ōnin War (1467-77), but it continued to flourish among the people, becoming especially famous at the Shrines Kamo Wakeikazura jinja and Kamo Mioya jinja in Kyōto and Sumiyoshi jinja in Ōsaka. At some point, the twelfth month purification (harae) was abandoned by the people and the sixth month purification became increasingly grander in scale, and becoming known specifically as nagoshi no harae. For the folk ritual of nagoshi at shrines circular rings or "gates" made of miscanthus reed (chinowa) are common. These large rings are made of reeds bundled together with paper strips and set up under a shrine's torii, or in front of its worship hall (haiden). Worshippers, led by the chief priest (gūji), pass through the reed gate and are thus purified of all defilements (kegare) and protected from misfortune. This practice originates from a legend appearing in the "Bingo Fudoki," in which Somin Shōrai, in return for housing Susano no mikoto for the night, was given a chinowa as protection against epidemic. In addition to passsing through the chinowa ring, customs of transferring one's defilement onto a puppet that is then floated down a river and of purifying oneself in seawater also exist. All of these popular nagoshi practices are intended as protection against bad communicable diseases. There is also a custom in some areas from Chūgoku to Kyūshū in which the last day of the sixth lunar month is called "nagoshi" and regarded as a turning point on which it is the custom to lead cows and horses to the river or the sea to entertain them. Scholars believe that this custom extended the idea of human purification to include domestic animals as well. See also Chinowa.

— Iwai Hiroshi
A chinowa in front of the Haiden of Hie Jinja.

Tokyo, 2005

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