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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Shrine Rituals
Shinkōsai
The characters Shinkō are read as miyuki and indicates a rite concerned with the kami going or traveling (out of the sanctuary). Shinkōsai is a rite related to this. Frequently held as part of the reisai, its performance is specified in the Jinja saishiki, stating "on the occasion of the reisai hold the shinkōsai." There are three types: 1. those occurring within the shrine precincts (keidai); 2. those held at a tabisho or tongū (which are temporary shrines for traveling gods similar to a mikoshi); and 3. those in which the kami tour their territory. There are two types of these rites: those held annually on customary days or those that are held on alternate years or at specific intervals. There are 5 different types of Shinkōsai, each with their own meaning: (1) Where the original enshrinement festival of the kami has become customary and taken this form; (2) those enacting some tradition associated with the saijin (kami); (3) where a rite of expelling disease deities (ekijin) become customary; (4) a rite to comfort the kami; and (5) those touring the kami to places with which it is connected. Many shinkōsai involve mikoshi. In Edo the Kanda Matsuri and Sannō Matsuri, were held at specified intervals. The mikoshi is inextricably linked with the festival. In the Edo period, the Kanda Matsuri and the Sannō Matsuri were held on alternate years. When one of these areas was holding their shinkōsai, the other would only hold a small "shadow" festival (kagematsuri) and not the full shinkōsai. In the Sannō Matsuri, the mikoshi was taken into the Edo castle for the Shogun to see and for this reason was also called tenkasai or goyōsai. The shinkōsai of Samukawa Jinja in Kanagawa Prefecture is called hamaorisai because the mikoshi enters the sea. In the kangensai of the Itsukushima Jinja in Hiroshima Prefecture, the mikoshi is placed aboard a special ship, and the kami is comforted with music. For this reason it is also called a ship matsuri. Other famous ship matsuri include the Tsushima Tennōsai of Tsushima City in Aichi Prefecture and the Aofushigaki rite of the Miho Jinja in Shimane Prefecture. From March 19 through 23, all the mikoshi of the Noto area participate in a procession at the Kunimuke Matsuri of the Keta Jinja in Ishikawa Prefecture. This observance is based on the tale in which Ōnamuchi no Mikoto pacified the land. The Gion Matsuri of the Yasaka Jinja has a great influence nationwide on summer festivals. It originated as a means to expel disease and involves a procession of tall Yamahoko (floats). In the procession of its mikoshi, the mikoshi is taken to the banks of the Kamo River and washed. Many other kinds of shinkōsai are found across the country, based on shrine traditions and exhibiting much variety.

— Mogi Sadasumi
The festival of the procession of the kami (shinkō) at Katori jingū

Chiba Prefecture, 2002

©Fujii Hiroaki

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