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Home » 6. Belief and Practice » Divination and Supplication
Yudate
In this ritual, water is boiled in a large pot placed before the altar, then a "female shaman" (miko) or other religious functionary soaks bamboo grass (sasa) leaves in the boiling water and sprinkles it on his or her body or on the other people present. In ancient times, the ritual was also called "divining hot water" (toiyu) and considered a type of divination (bokusen), in which steam was raised before the altar to induce a miko or other medium to fall into a state of spirit possession (kamigakari) from which the medium would communicate a divine message (takusen). This ritual is thought to have been linked to the archaic practices of divine arbitration called kukatachi.and yukishō, both methods of interpreting the divine will on the basis of water boiled before a deity's altar. In later ages, the boiling water itself was believed to possess the power of purification and exorcism, and the ritual was combined with dance and transformed into a performing art. A description of the yudate ritual performed before the Awataguchi Shinmei deity in an entry from the 29th day, 9th month, 3rd year of Hōtoku (1451) within the Diary of Nakahara Yasutomi (Yasutomi ki) and other sources reveal that ceremonies by miko which combined yudate and dance were performed with increasing frequency in the medieval period and gradually turned into performances for spectators. Moreover, there are many cases of yudate being combined with kagura dance. For the Shimotsuki kagura exemplified by the flower festival (hanamatsuri) held in Kitashidara-gun, Aichi Prefecture, and the Tōyama festival held in Shimoina-gun, Nagano Prefecture, for example, a parasol-shaped "celestial canopy" (tengai) is suspended at the ceremonial site as the "object to which the deity temporarily descends" (yorishiro). A pot is set beneath the tengai and the yudate occupies an important role within the ceremony. (see kukatachi)

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