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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Individual Shrine Observances
Batō shin matsuri
A long established major festival held primarily on April 22 at the Taga Shrine (Taga Taisha) in Taga Town, Inukami District, Shiga Prefecture. It is also called the Taga Festival. The ritual is carried out under the leadership of the so-called batōnin, a select member of the local community who is mounted on a horse for the purpose of the ritual. This custom stems from the fact that originally a representative from among the provincial officials served as the ritual functionary. Apart from the batōnin, another dignitary referred to as o-tsukai-den also performs the role of ritual functionary. In Edo times these leaders came to be selected from local powerful families. On April 12 are the ceremonies of placing the rope (onshimehari) and inviting the kami (onkamiire). With these two rituals the kami to be worshiped (saijin) is welcomed to the sacred room of the batōnin, a side room of the inner sanctuary (honden). The role of the o-tsukai-den is to make morning and evening offerings until the end of the rituals. On the fifteenth of April, the batōnin takes a purifying bath. On the eighteenth there is the ceremony of the batōnin making offerings, comprised of the sakigui ritual (in which two birds that are deemed to be the messengers of the kami are fed with offerings), the torch rite (taimatsu gyōji), and a ritual horse race. The twenty-first is the festival's eve. On the twenty-second the annual ceremony (reisai saiten) is held, followed by the relocation of the kami. The portable shrine (mikoshi) is transported to Totonomiya Shrine in Kurusu, which acts as the temporary resting place for the kami (otabisho). The procession accompanying the portable altar is said to resemble that of a feudal lord (daimyō) at the one-hundred thousand koku (a unit used to measure rice and employed to gauge the wealth of a feudal lord) level. During the rites performed at Kurusu the chief priest (gūji) is presented with a tomi tree branch, a type of katsura tree, which he wears as a headdress. The batōnin and the o-tsukai-den then go separately from the mikoshi to Tsue Shrine where they rejoin the altar. After the ceremonies at Tsue Shrine, they leave for Hindaigawara. This is called honwatari. Here, facing each other on horses in front of the mikoshi, the batōnin and the o-tsukai-den cross their ritual wands (heihaku) a ritual called "Crossing of the Ritual Wands" (Gohei awase no shiki). Since these two chief officiants (tōnin) honor the male kami Iza-nagi and female kami Izan-nami respectively, this act represents the union of the yin and yang elements. On the way back to the main shrine, the chief priest hands the batōnin and o-tsukai-den a tomi branch each, which they proceed to attach to their ritual hats (kanmuri). After the kami is returned to the main shrine, the batōnin and o-tsukai-den participate in various events including the waving of the ritual wand rite (Heifuri shiki), the evening sun ritual (Yūhi shinji), and the onhi rite, in which the onhi (a casket holding the shintai of the kami) is waved to the left and right.

— Mogi Sakae
"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
4-10-28 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, 150-8440, Japan
URL http://21coe.kokugakuin.ac.jp/
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