Tuesday, January 5, 2010
The new year so far has been cold and windy with snow flurries and sleet. I've stayed in my nest close to woodstove. Yesterday there was a break in the weather, so I decided to venture out and visit the local shrine for Hatsumode (first shrine visit of the year). The tori were still decked out in their new years decorations.
My main reason to visit was to see the new shimenawa, the "sacred rope" that is used to demarcate sacred space. In my village the shimenawa is replaced every 10 years, and this one was made in the weeks after the harvest matsuri last November.
Shimenawa come in all shapes and sizes, and are traditionally made of rice-straw, though in some places plastic is now being used. Here in Iwami the shimenawa tend to be large, though not as large as those in Izumo. I remember when I first came here a villager apologized that because the village was poor they couldn't afford to make on as big as the one at Izumo Taisha, the biggest in Japan.
I had hoped to see this one being constructed, but in the end i was too busy in November..
After that brief spell of sunshine and stillness the weather has reverted to freezing wind and flurries.