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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Rituals in Okinawa and Amami
Obotsu-kagura
The expression indicating, in the region incorpoating Amami and the Okinawa archipelago, the Other Realm where the deities dwell. Obotsu and kagura have basically the same meaning but are used antithetically. According to the Chūzan seikan (Genealogy of Chūzan, 1650) and the Konkō kenshū (1711), obotsu-kagura is the heavenly realm and its deity is the Lord of Heaven. However, in Amami and the northern part of the Okinawa archipelago, there are widespread obotsuyama (obutsu hills) with groves that are dedicated to local tutelary deities and are sacred particularly to the raihshin, deities who cross over for special rites. Thus obotsu-kagura may be both the heavenly realm and a sacred place in this world; such a view of the Other Realm (takaikan) is not easy to understand. Popular beliefs associated with the obotsuyama are thought to have been absorbed by the Shuri court and become ideas associated with Heaven as the Other Realm. In the first volume of the Omoro sōshi, a collection of ritual songs of the archipelago, compiled by the court in the 16th and 17th centuries, there is a strong emphasis on obotsu-kagura, and there also exists a tradition which links the Lord of Heaven with female priestesses such as noro. This indicates that obotsu-kagura was closely connected with the strengthening of the power of the king.

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