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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Individual Shrine Observances
U matsuri
U matsuri
Cormorant festival. A festival in which cormorant is presented to the kami of Keta Jinja in Hakui City, Ishikawa prefecture, on December sixteenth. Live cormorants are caught at a location called Ugai (Cormorant Cliff) on Unoura (Cormorant Bay) Beach in Nanao City. On the sixteenth at three in the morning there is a question-answer session about the cormorants. They are released in front of the shrine with the gūji (head priest) pursuing them. The next year's harvest is divined by how this proceeds. After this, a rite called hōchō no shinji (bird-release rite) is observed in which the cormorants are released back to the sea. Previously, this festival was on the day of the horse or the day of the snake during the eleventh lunar month. According to tradition, the origin of this festival is in the offering of captured cormorants made by the territorial kami Mikadonushihiko upon Keta Jinja's enshrined kami (saijin) Ōnamuchinomikoto's arrival at present-day Kadonoshima, Kashima-gun from Kitajima in Koshi, Niigata prefecture.

— Mogi Sakae
A cormorant in a cage and the ritual "cormorant catchers"(utoribe)

Ishikawa Prefecture, 2003

©Ichida Masataka

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