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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Individual Shrine Observances
Daitōsai (Nagano)
This festival consists of offerings of freshly harvested grains by the tōnin (leaders) from December 10 to 14 at the Takemizuwake Jinja in Kōshoku City, Nagano Prefecture. There are five numbered tōnin, the third considered the highest rank and thus known as the daitō, which is the origin for the name of this festival. In order to be appointed as the daitō, one must have been, in order, the fifth, fourth, second, and first tōnin for ten years each. During these ten years, daitō earn their rank by continually making offerings (shinsen) and by being selected by sacred lottery (mikuji). Even if one has good luck and is selected by mikuji each year, the total process takes fifty years.
       Preparations for the festival take one year. On the evening of the last day of the previous year's festival, the five people to become the tōnin for the next year's festival (called the otōgumi) are selected by mikuji. For the ritual transfer (otōwatashi) of the tōnin on December 16, an altar or ritual space (saijō) is made from pine logs and bamboo in the garden of the tōya (the tōnin, or his or her house) where a bunrei of the shrine is worshipped for one year. This ritual space is known as the ohakkai. When December arrives, each tōya (tōnin) conducts a cauldron purification (kamakiyome), makes the rice cakes (mochi) for sacred offerings (osonae), and enters a period of ritual abstinence (monoimi). The festival takes place from the tenth through the fifteenth, as the tōnin offer rice cakes made from that year's harvest to the shrine in the order of their titles, first through fifth. The tōya, dressed in white, silently make offerings and receive ritual purification (harai) on a straw rice bag in front of the ohakkai. They form a procession and go to Suwasha (Suwa Jinja Shrine), which is known as "Imi no mori" (The Forest of Purification). The tōnin remain here in complete silence until sunset, while various performing arts are offered to them throughout the day. After this, the procession becomes a neri matsuri (ordered processional) that winds its way to the shrine. People roast beans in front of the houses along the route to welcome the tōnin. Entering the shrine, the tōnin worship and offer rice cakes made from that year's harvest. After a tour of the sessha and the massha, they return to the tōya for a large naorai (ceremonial celebration of the end of a ritual). When somebody becomes a daitō, their family is recognized as having a special status as part of the daitō lineage.

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