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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Shrine Rituals
A banquet that accompanies a matsuri. Usually understood as a meal consisting of the offerings made at the festival after its conclusion, the naorai is actually one of the constituent elements of matsuri. According to the Association of Shinto Shrines' Jinja saishiki, a naorai is included in major rites (taisaishiki), middle rites (chūsaishiki) and minor rites (shōsaishiki). As for the actual performance of naorai, "First, The person in charge sets out the food and drink. Next, they pour the sacred drink, and all assembled drink. Next, the naorai music is performed. Next, the person in charge removes the dishes." Also, where individual shrines have a specific practice that derives from a tradition, the naorai is performed. As we can see from this provision, there are many shrines preserving ancient practices in naorai. Naorai are performed at the end of daijōsai and niinamesai, and these are called the toyonoakari no setchi-e, where white and black sake: (shiroki and kuroki) was presented to the assembled retainers. In an Imperial Proclamation of the Emperor Shōtoku we can see the expressions "Today is the day of the toyonoakari-kiko (ceremonial dinner) of the naorai of the Ōnie" and "Today is the day of the toyonoakari-kiko of the naorai of the niinae." In the Engishiki it is mentioned that there was a naorai-den at Kasuga Shrine (now Kasuga Taisha) and also there was a building called the naorai-in at the Grand Shrines of Ise. In any case it is said that the naorai has been conducted as a very important part of ceremonies and rites since ancient times. The word naorai is usually thought to derive from nahoriahi. The first character of the word connotes the end of a period of purifying body and mind for ritual (saikai), of returning to everyday life. In contrast, another theory by Orikuchi Shinobu posits a connection to the naobi no kami. Accordingly the meaning of naorai would be worship of these gods of purification at the conclusion of a ceremony, having moved to a different place, as an apology for any offences committed during the ceremony. Another interpretation identifies the first character with the idea of sitting down before a table set for a meal, and the second character with the idea of 'all meeting together.' Needless to say, this is a religious event but if it means "after the conclusion of the ceremonies, the sake (miki) and food offerings (shinsen) presented to the kami are taken down and people partake of them" then it does not have any element or meaning of ending purification.

— Mogi Sadasumi
The naorai (banquet) during the Morotabune shinji at Miho Jinja

Shimane Prefecture, 2006

©Fujii Hiroaki

The naorai (banquet) during the Morotabune shinji at Miho Jinja.

Shimane Prefecture, 2006

©Fujii Hiroaki

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