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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Individual Shrine Observances
Gogan shinji
The gogan shinji is an annual festival (reisai) that takes place on February 10 at the Sugōisobe Jinja in Kaga City, Ishikawa Prefecture. After a ceremony, dozens of young ujiko (parishioners) of the two areas surrounding the shrine, Shikiji and Oka, dressed in white undergarments, white pleated trousers (hakama), white socks (tabi), and sandals, break into the snow covered temple grounds (keidai) and wander about pounding things indiscriminately with the shafts of green bamboo, more than two meters in length, that have been placed there. After about one hour, they have a tug-of-war with a twenty-four meter long rope that has been made to look like a giant snake. Then they hurl this rope snake from the Shikiji Bridge into the Daishōji River. The worshipers at the shrine vie with each other for slivers of the bamboo to take home, as they are seen as charms against evil and calamities. Participants are also presented with chopsticks made from the splintered bamboo, called goganbashi. In the past fishermen downstream at Shiotani are said to have collected the rope snake, weaving strands from the rope into their towropes as a charm for a bountiful catch. This festival is also known as the takewari matsuri (Bamboo Splitting Festival). The ritual is said to have started with Emperor Tenmu's prayer (ritsugan, ryūgan, "gan" meaning "prayer"), thus giving it the name "gogan shinji."

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