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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Individual Shrine Observances
Hana-no-tō
A week-long festival taking place beginning May 8 at Atsuta Shrine (Atsuta jingū), in Atsuta Ward, Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture. It is said that the number of people who participate is second only to the number of visitors on the first days of January, when many people make their first visit to a shrine in the new year (hatsu mōde). The event begins at eight in the morning. The custom of decorating the main building of the shrine with little models representing the upcoming harvests from rice paddies and fields (barley and cotton cultivation) is characteristic of this festival. Participants divine together the upcoming crops by examining and interpreting these models that take the form of miniature houses, barns, sheds, and shrines constructed on trays in the manner of bonsai or miniature landscapes. Informally called "otameshi," this custom's official name is Abundant Year Ritual. Until World War II, the miniatures were specially separated into those for wet-field cultivation and those for dry-field cultivation. Today they are found in the same spot.
       There is another ritual held on March 1 (originally by the lunar calendar the last day of the first month) for rich grain harvest and the protection of silkworms at Inaba Shrine (Inaba jinja) in Gifu City, Gifu Prefecture that is also called Hana-no-tō. The shrine buildings are adorned with dolls that represent field workers and silkworm growers. Based on the rice gruel divination (kayu ura) that takes place on January 15, the good or bad prospects for the harvest are indicated in glass balls of gold, silver, and red.
       At Tsushima Shrine (Tsushima jinja) in Tsushima City, Aichi Prefecture, there is a Hana-no-tō for three days, beginning on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month. The prospects for the harvest and early rains are indicated inside the shrine with hana no tō decorations using representations of human dolls and agricultural equipment and based on the results of divination.
       At the shinkō sai (a ritual during which the kami travels in his portable shrine) at Matsu-no-o Shrine (Matsu-no-o jinja) in Nishikyō Ward, Kyōto City, Kyōto Prefecture (the bringing out of the kami ceremony is around April 20 and the return of the kami ceremony is twenty-one days later, in mid-May), originally a fifteen year old boy was selected from the households belonging to the miyaza association of shrine parishioners (also see tōya) and designated as hana no tō. Hana no tō in this case refers to the boy riding a horse and making offerings of artificial iris and peony flowers to the shrine. There is a saying that states: "The festival is not complete until the hana no tō is finished."
       At the Iwashimizu Hachiman Shrine (Iwashimizu hachimangū) in Yawata City, Kyōto Prefecture, a hana no tō used to occur on September 20. A flower stand was made and decorated with artificial grasses and flowers and a Buddhist priest wearing flowers performed songs and dances.

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