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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Individual Shrine Observances
Kenchō Shinji
This ritual takes place from January 1 through 3 at Iyahiko Jinja in Iyahiko Village, Nishikanbara County, Niigata Prefecture. On each evening, a platform (shimadai) with wooden sculptures of birds is placed, along with other offerings (shinsen), in front of the kami. After the ceremony, the wooden birds are presented to twenty people selected by lottery from among the visitors to the shrine. On the day of the second, after the lottery and distribution of the wooden birds, a ritual is held to announce the participants in the first ritual archery competition of the year, held on February 7. The events of the third day are the same as the first. The festival was revised and renamed the kenchō shinji in 1910, but people have returned to the original name, yaen shinji. After a performance of kokagura, each of the shinshoku are presented with wooden incense boxes in which small amounts of boiled rice, Japanese radish, and salt have been placed. On the evening after the trays had been prepared, in the past it appears that the children who had come to the festival would be allowed to vie with each other to possess one of the wooden birds. There are numerous examples of birds being used as offerings (nie, ke no nikomono), such as the birds (kakedori) presented during the kasuga wakamiya on matsuri in Nara.

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