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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Individual Shrine Observances
Akutai matsuri
Cursing festival. At the akutai matsuri of Atago Jinja in Iwama-chō, Nishi Ibaragi-gun, Ibaragi prefecture held on December fourteenth (formerly, the fourteenth day of the eleventh month of the lunar calendar), worshippers verbally abuse each other as they proceed to worship at Mt. Atago's mountaintop shrine. At the shrine they trade insults with a person impersonating a tengu (goblin of sorts that inhabits mountains). If one wins this exchange, it is believed that they will receive good fortune in the coming year.
       At the yuki matsuri (snow festival) held on January fourteenth and fifteenth at Izu Jinja in Niino, Anan-chō, Shimoina-gun, Nagano prefecture and also at the fuyu matsuri (winter festival) of Sakabe, Tenryū-chō in the same district, a negi (a grade of Shinto priest) engages in a question and answer session with a demon who is the yamanokami (kami of the mountain). Once the priest has won, there is an observance in which the priest receives the demon's treasured staff.
       At the akutai matsuri on the fifth of January at Haushiwake Jinja in Yasawagi, Ōmori-chō, Hiraka-gun, Akita prefecture, the worshippers insult each other. Those who win their exchanges are said to receive good fortune that year. Also called akkō matsuri (bad-mouthing festivals), akutai matsuri held at the beginning of the year are believed to divine the new year (toshiura). During the kezurikake (a branch of willow or cypress that has been shaved at one end to represent an ear of a reed) rite, held at Kyoto's Gion and popularly called okera matsuri, worshippers at Yasaka Jinja (also known as Gion Jinja), both parents and children, hurled obscenities and insults at each other. Those who defeated their opponents would be blessed with a year's good fortune.
       The abusing one another and bragging on the evening of December tenth and during the preceding day's festivities at Hisawadake Jinja within Hisawa Jinja's precincts in Nanmoku Village, Kanra-gun, Gunma prefecture, was also called an akutai matsuri. Those who became angry as a result of these insults were told that their silkworm production would suffer in the new year. At the present time an annual observance of climbing the peak to worship at the mountain shrine occurs in the spring.

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