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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Individual Shrine Observances
Amasake matsuri
Sweet sake festival. The central activity of the festival at the Umemiya Shrine in Sayama City, Saitama prefecture held on February tenth and eleventh is to invite villagers to the shrine and treat them to sake. It is called the amasake matsuri and divines the year's harvest according to the quality of the sake production.
       At the amasake matsuri held on the fourth Sunday of August at Inohana Kumano Jinja in Arakawa Village, Chichibu-gun in the same prefecture, shrine parishioners (ujiko) bring wheat and make amasake (sweet sake). Within the shrine precincts (keidaichi) naked men tussle over the sweet sake. This is to exorcise illness caused by evil spirits.
       Also, at Sannō Jinja in Sano, Hanazono-chō, Uto City, Kumamoto prefecture, young men gather on the first day of the monkey in the eleventh lunar month and tussle over the amasake, looking like monkeys wearing yellow hand towels wrapped around the head and face and red kimono.
       During its spring and autumn festivals sweet sake is offered to the kami of Ōhara Jinja in Miwa-chō, Amada-gun, Kyoto prefecture. It has the name amasake matsuri because the worshippers are treated with the amasake offerings.
       There is an amasake matsuri during the rites held on January eleventh at Hakusan Jinja in Aioi, Gujō-gun Hachiman-chō, Gifu prefecture. As the name of each parishioner is called, they drink one tea bowl each of the amasake drawn from a large cauldron that has been set up within the precincts. After each person has had their turn, everyone gathers around the cauldron and drinks the remaining amasake.
       At the amasake festival of Shimomaino Jinja in Maino-chō, Nobeoka City, Miyazaki prefecture, amasake that has been made overnight is put into bamboo containers. Together with white uncooked rice they are wrapped in omoto leaves (a variety of lily) and offered to the kami. The amasake referred to here is not the ordinary sweet sake, but a kind of sake fermented overnight (ichiyazake) for the festival.

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