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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Individual Shrine Observances
Hi-taki no shinji
Bonfire Rite. A religious event that has been held for a long time at Shimomiya Shrine, an associated shrine (sessha) of Aso Shrine (Aso jinja) in Ichinomiya City, Aso County, Kumamoto Prefecture. It is said that Shimomiya Shrine began when the deity Aso was lamenting that grain crops were failing due to frost (shimo) and so prayed to the frost deity. The frost deity is transported from Shimomiya Shrine to the Bonfire Hall on August 19. Girls selected from amongst the local parishioners (ujiko) and twelve and thirteen years of age continuously tend a bonfire in front of the shrine for nearly sixty days. On September 1 is the rite called "Warming" where an offering of spun silk is presented. On October 16, the divinity of Shimomiya returns to the main shrine, passing through Tenjin Wood. This is "Raising the Maidens" (otome-age) . On the evening of October 18, a bonfire is again lit at the Bonfire Hall and shrine officials (shinshoku) and shrine priestesses (miko) performing sacred dances (kagura) through the night. The priestesses and young girls perform the "Fire Kagura" at dawn, where they walk over the hot coals. This ends the Bonfire Rite. There is also sumō wrestling in front of the shrine.
       There are bonfire festivals at various places: on November 1 at Yasaka Shrine (Yasaka jinja) in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture; on November 7 at Kibune Shrine (Kibune jinja) Sakyō Ward, Kyoto City; and on November 8 at Hanayama Shrine in Yamashina Ward, Kyoto City.

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