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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Individual Shrine Observances
Morotabune shinji
This rite takes place on December 3 at Miho Shrine in Mihonoseki Town, Yatsuka County, Shimane Prefecture. This relates to the myth regarding the transfer of the land (kuniyuzuri) recorded in the Kojiki and Nihonshoki. This rite is a recreation of the myth that Ōnamuchi-no-mikoto's messenger who came in a dug-out canoe called a morotabune and the enshrined deity (saijin), Kotoshirononushi-no-mikoto, had a talk at the Mihonoseki harbor mouth regarding land transfers. In the evening festival, there is a ceremony with 75 kinds of special food and wine offerings (shinsen) being offered to the kami. On the main festival day, the chief priest (gūji) uses sacred lots (mikuji) to select a steersman and rowers. A parade led by the carrier of a makka (wooden sword), leaves the shrine and goes to Miyanada, which is before the shrine. The gūji oversees the event from a temporary hut built with curtains, in front of Miyanada. Two murotabune boats in the shape of ancient dug-out canoes (kurifune). Eighteen people including the makka carrier, steersman, and rowers split up and board the boats, take up paddles and begin rowing out to sea. They row to the east mouth of Mihonoseki harbor, to below the headland Mt. Marōdo, worship at the Marōdo Shrine which is dedicated to Ōnamuchi-no-mikoto, and then return to Miyanada. The boats do this trip three times, competing against each other. When this is finished, the makka carriers removes the makka from the prow where it had been mounted race to offer it at the shrine. The steersman stands at the prow and performs a call-and-response prayer with gūji standing on the seawall. When this is done they cross the harbor and then there are three boat races.

—Mogi Sakae
The Morotabune shinji at Miho Jinja

Shimane Prefecture, 2006

©Fujii Hiroaki

The Morotabune rite of Miho Jinja. Two boats, representing two kami of the kuniyuzuri (transfer of the land) myth, race across the water and back.

Shimane Prefecture, 2006

©Fujii Hiroaki

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