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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » State Rites
Michiae no matsuri
  Regaling [the gods] in the Streets Festival." A ceremony performed in the ancient period, as stipulated by the Divinities Prescriptions (Jingiryō). Intended to prevent evil spirits such as demons and disease-causing deities (ekishin) from entering the capital, it was therefore performed on the four major avenues running north, east, south, and west at the perimeters of the capital. We do not know when the festival first began, but given its form it was almost certainly related closely to the establishment of capital cities and likely began with the founding of the Fujiwara Palace in Nara at the end of the seventh century. Performed by diviners (urabe) from the Department of Divinities (Jingikan) using fur religious implements and such, elements of the festival bear the strong imprint of onmyōdō, or yin-yang divination. Perhaps because the Department of Divinities promoted a number of similar rites in the mid-Heian period such as the Festival of the Four Directions (Shikaku sai), the Michiae no matsuri gradually disappeared, as did references to it in historical records. The Explanations of the Prescriptions (Ryō no gige) explains it as a ceremony to prevent calamity-causing demons (and therefore the calamities caused by them) from entering the capital by intercepting and regaling them in the streets. On the other hand, the norito litany for this festival contained in the Engi Regulations (Engi Shiki) explains it as a festival to regale the Yachimata-hiko kami trinity who would then block their way. There is some difference between the two explanations.

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