Encyclopedia of Shinto Kokugakuin University
 main menu
  »New EOS site



  »Guide to Usage

  »Contributors & Translators


  »Movies List

Home » 6. Belief and Practice » Divination and Supplication
Also pronounced kugatachi, this ritual is a type of trial in which the legitimacy or veracity of a person's claim is judged by the divine will. After the suspected person is made to swear to the kami, he must plunge and keep his hand in boiling water. A guilty man will suffer severe burns, but a righteous man will not be burnt. The etymology of the word is not clear, but one theory suggests that it derives from a Korean word. As an archaic Japanese method for interpreting the divine will, kukatachi belongs to the category of "divination by pledge" (ukehi ) whereby a person first performs some act of proof to the deities, after which the legitimacy of the claim is determined by the outcome of that act. Kukatachi is also written as or õ.
       In The Chronicles of Japan (Nihon shoki ), according to the entry for the 4th month of the 9th year of Emperor Ōjin's reign, Takeshiuchi no Sukune proclaimed his undivided loyalty after he was nearly killed due to a slanderous accusation by his younger brother, Umashiuchi no Sukune. Unable to judge his loyalty, the emperor made Takeshiuchi no Sukune perform kukatachi at the bank of Shiki River. The entry for the ninth month of the fourth year of Empress Ingyō's reign is annotated as follows: "õ refers to (kukatachi written phonetically). That is, mud is poured into a pot and boiled, then people bare their arms and grope around with their hands in the boiling mud." Due to disorder caused by the extraordinary number of people who claimed high pedigree, this ceremony was conducted to rightful from fraudulent claims. It is said that a large vat called a kukabe was placed on Amakashi Hill at Kotomakado Cape, then clan representatives purified themselves by cleansing their hair and bodies (mokuyoku saikai ) and tucked up their sleeves with cords called yūdasuki; truthful men had no problem but dishonest men suffered burns and quickly withdrew, so the good and bad could be immediately distinguished. Moreover, an entry for the ninth month of Emperor Keitai's reign states that a kukatachi ritual was conducted to reach a decision on a deadlocked suit between a resident of Imna (in Japanese, Mimana) on the Korean peninsula and a Japanese person. In later ages, kukatachi came to refer to the water boiled for purifying one's body and worshipping before a shrine's altar, as exemplified in Episode 21 of an essay by Ueda Akinari entitled "Records of the Bold and Timid" (Tandai shōshin roku): "Though on three occasions he entreated the deity to improve the situation, presented kukatachi as an offering, and performed kagura dance, the deity did not heed his prayers." Yudate and yukishō petitions also trace their origins to this practice. See also yudate

— Nakajima Hiroko
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
4-10-28 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-8440, Japan
URL http://21coe.kokugakuin.ac.jp/
Copyright ©2002-2006 Kokugakuin University. All rights reserved.
Ver. 1.3