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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Individual Shrine Observances
Hani-tsukai
A rite held at Sumiyoshi Shrine (Sumiyoshi taisha) in Sumiyoshi Ward, Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture twice, at the beginning of February and the beginning of November. A rite where clay for making the earthenware platters called hiraka used in the festivals is brought from Mt. Unebi in Yamato. Ten days before the festival, two clay messengers (hanitsukai) and the clay carrier (hanibakomochi) leave the shrine. After purification in the sea (misogi), they climb Mt. Unebi in Kashiwara, Nara prefecture and perform services at Mt. Unebi Entrance Shrine, halfway up the mountain. They ward off impurities by chewing sakaki leaves and gather three-and-one-half handfuls of clay from the old shrine grounds at the mountain's top. This is called the Rite of Gathering the Clay. The clay is placed in a special box and taken back to the shrine. With this clay, a flat platter (hiraka) is made. This is used for ritual food offerings (shinsen) at the Kinen festival in the spring and the Niiname festival in the autumn. The clay messenger originally went to Mt. Unebi in a procession of mounted warriors. On the occasion of Emperor Jinmu's expedition to the east, he took the clay of Mt. Ama-no-kagu that was being held by the enemy. With it he made many hiraka. It is upon this old story that the festival is based. It is said that originally the clay was gathered from Mt. Ama-no-kagu.

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