Saturday, November 17, 2012

Month of Little Sleep part 10


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On Sunday 21st October we went to the Omoto Matsuri up in the small settlement of Yudani. It is a small settlement, getting smaller. Only 34 households remain and they are mostly old folks...... there are no kids. The Omoto Matsuris only occur every 7 years and are expensive affairs and only 34 families are left to fund it. It ended up being a fantastic night with all the hallmarks of a true matsuri.... friendliness, generosity, inebriation, humor etc.... I shot over a thousand photos but choose just a handful.....

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After the initial rituals and ceremonies the first kagura was Shihogatame, a dance unique to Omoto Kagura but which is similar to Kamimukae in regular Iwami kagura.

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At a usual ceremony there may be half a dozen to a dozen offerings placed on the altar, but given the importance of Omoto rituals there will be anything from 30 to 50 different items....

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Possibly my favorite Omoto kagura "dance" is Tengai, unique to Omoto. I have seen it performed by priests and also by kagura dancers, but in my experience it is the priests who put on a more dynamic dance.....

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The Ebisu dance was unique, for me at least, in several respects. usually Ebisu dances alone, or sometimes with Daikoku, and its usually just a pantomime with him throwing candy to the crowd and then catching a Sea Bream. This was the "complete" Ebisu dance with the first part danced by a dancer as a priest, then with Ebisu, and then finally the "usual" Ebisu dance. usually the fish caught by Ebisu is made out of paper, but here they used the actual fish that had been on the altar as offering to Omoto.

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At 6am the final ritual/dance took place and this is where possession, kamigakari, will take place, if it take place. The rope snake representing Omoto is swung violently backwards and forwards by the priests. To the rear you can see the villager who had been designated to be the recipient of possession. kamigakari did not occur.

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