Saturday, June 15, 2019

Pagan Festival Shout Out: Suijin Matsuri

Suijin Matsuri: Shinto rite honoring the Kami of Water.

The term Suijin (literally water kami or water deity) refers to the many heavenly and earthly manifestations of the benevolent Shintō divinity of water. But it also refers to a wide variety of mythological and magical creatures found in lakes, ponds, springs and wells, including serpents (snakes and dragons), eels, fish, turtles, and the flesh-eating kappa. 

The observances have the significant role of exorcism of bad spirits and purification, especially aimed at dangerous epidemic diseases and water-related disasters which commonly happen during the summer. 

Following a ceremony in the neighborhood shrine, the local men carry the mikoshi (portable shrine) to the accompaniment of flute and drum. 
It is taken down to a boat waiting at the river’s edge. One boat carries the mikoshi, the musicians, three priests, three boatmen while a second boat carries a group of young men and several ceremonial bamboo, gohei (a ritual wand) and sakaki (Cleyera japonica) branches.

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