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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Individual Shrine Observances
Gozakae Shinji
This ritual occurs the evening of September 24 at Sada Jinja in Kashima Town, Yatsuka County, Shimane Prefecture. This ritual, which has been practiced since the Yōrō era (717-724), consists of replacing the straw matting of the kamikura. On the evening of the September 24, priests below the rank of gūji (chief priest) enter the naijin of the southern honden and ritually exchange the matting. After making offerings, silent tributes and other ceremonies to the kami, the ritual moves to the Northern and Central Halls where they exchange the matting in a similar fashion. The matting used for the exchange was originally made from straw taken from sacred fields (shinden) once called gozaden (matting fields). On September 25, the annual festival occurs with the performance of two kagura dances, the koden no shichiza no shinji and the sada shin'nō. It thought that the sada shin'nō is the original source of the numerous kagura traditions found to the south of Shimane Prefecture.
       At Mizuwakasu Jinja in Goka Village, Oki County, Shimane Prefecture, there is a ritualized changing of the matting on November 6. It is believed that all the kami of Japan gather at Izumo Taisha during the tenth month of the lunar calendar (kannazuki, "the month of no kami"). Before the kami depart, at each shrine in the village, there is a festival inviting the saijin (deities of the shrine) to return after attending the meeting in Izumo. Renewing the matting (gozasara) is thought to represent their departure. To welcome the kami back, there is a ritualized installment of new matting on December 6. Previously, people of all ages would confine themselves to the shaden (hall) of Mizuwakasu Jinja and exchange cups of unrefined sake throughout the night.

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