On Wednesday (May 5th) it was Childrens Day, but in my area it was also time for the annual Suijin Matsuri. Usually we go over the river to the matsuri in Kawado, a rather grand affair with processions and boats etc. Previous posts can be found here.
This year I decided to visit our local matsuri, far more low-key, and becoming more low-key year by year.
The shrine is dominated by 2 huge pieces of giant bamboo, at leat 12 meters long, to which are attached Onusa, a type of purification wand. These will be taken down to 2 spots on the river and replace last years.
The Onusa are laid in front of the offering table in front of the Suijin Mikoshi. In former times the mikoshi would then be carried down to the 2 spots by the villagers. More recently it was carried by a pick-up truck. This year, for the first time, it will stay in the shrine as there are simply too few villagers taking part. Other than the priest and the 2 musicians and 5 village elders, I was the only person there.
Most villages no longer have a priest, but ours lives right next to the shrine, and I noticed what a great garden he has.
After the ceremonies that consisted mostly of purifiication rituals and the reading of norito ( commonly called shinto prayers, but more akin to "reports" to the kami) the 6 of us manhandled the huge Onusa down the shrine steps to the river.
One was tied to a little truck to be carried downriver a few hundred meters to the second Suijin spot.