Monday, May 10, 2010
The first Suijin site is a large tree on the bank of the river just next to the candy-colored bridge.
This is the spot where the small ferry boat used to cross the river. Before the river was dammed it was much more violent than now, and many people drowned at this spot.
A few older people turn up carrying bamboos with streamers attached. On the streamers are written the names of children of the family. It should have been the parents bringing the banners, but it was left up to the grandparents.
The old Onusa on its bamboo pole is first removed and thrown into the river. This is a traditional form of purification. Polluted things are thrown into the water and taken away to the depths of the sea.
In former times the Onusa was attached to the tree by someone climbing up the tree. The long bamboo pole is a more modern "safer" way.
On the opposite bank of the river the Suijin Matsuri of kawado is underway. I just checked and realized that I havent posted about it yet, so will do that in a few days.
Once the Onusa and streamers are attached to the tree the priest then performs some more rituals. Sake is poured at the base, and some rice is scattered.
The purpose of the Onusa is to pacify the spirit of Suijin, the Water God. Spirit-pacification is a major part of what is now called Shinto,but its roots lie in Daoism and Yin-Yang Theory.
We then move downstream half a kilometer to the second site. This is right above what used to be a deep and dangerous part of the river that had the "7 day whirlpool". If your boat got sucked into it, it would take 7 days to row out. This is also the site of the local Enko legend, something else I havent gotten round to posting about yet.
Following the rituals everyone heads back to the shrine for the closing ceremony. Everyone in attendance is given a Mikuma, a small folded paper that contains a few grains of the rice that was on the altar as an offering to Suijin. The rice is from the village, and the priest suggests we add the grains next time we cook some rice.