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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Individual Shrine Observances
Chinka sai
"Fire Prevention Festival." The chinkasai festival is a monoimi (purificatory abstinence period) ritual held on the evening of July 19 at Mononobe Jinja Shrine in Ōda City, Shimane Prefecture. In the past, this ritual was held in the evening of all days of the horse of the sixth month of the lunar calendar and during this period, use of all musical instruments was forbidden throughout the village. Today, from before dawn on the day of the festival, performances of musical instruments are forbidden on the shrine grounds (keidai) and the priests (shinshoku) undergo a misogi (purification) at the seashore. At around eight o'clock in the evening a preparatory purification (shubatsu) is held in front of the large torii, and then the rite begins after all have been seated in the haiden of the main shrine. The head priest (gūji) rises and enters the haiden to worship, and the priests (shinshoku) all chant "yōin" three times. This is called kamiokoshi (waking the kami). From this time the taboo on musical instruments is lifted and ritual music is performed.
       Another chinkasai is also held at the Itsukushima Jinja Shrine in Miyajima Town, Saeki County, Hiroshima Prefecture on the evening of December 31. Parishioners (ujiko) light torches from a sacred flame made from rubbing sticks together. They take the torches home and the place the ashes on the kamidana (household altar) as a form of fire prevention.
       A chinkasai is also held at the Iyahiko Jinja Shrine in the town of Iyahiko, Kanbara county, Niigata Prefecture on April 1 and November 1. The shinshoku perform an ablution ceremony (misogi) at Nozumi no hama beach preceding the ritual. On the day of the ceremony, the shinshoku make special tamagushi (sacred offerings of branches) by putting two branches together, one of sakaki and one of bamboo, each about 60 centimeters in length, and hanging many pieces of paper cut into circles from them; these are skillfully placed in the central part of the haiden. All of the shinshoku then perform a sacred song (kamiuta) to the accompaniment of the kakko (an hourglass-shaped drum commonly used in gagaku). Beginning with the gūji, the shinshoku worship one by one in front of the tamagushi. A special offering (shinsen) known as ōmike is presented only on the first day of the chinkasai.

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