Video of a Shrine Ritual

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I wanted to share this because usually every year during Golden Week I share a video with my Patreon backers of the “shrine battle” at one of the major local shrines. This year because of the pandemic, the festival was cancelled, but the shrine ceremony went on as it always does and has for over 1000 years. This year, the priests posted a video of the ceremony, which is really really cool.

This is Otaki jinja, a shrine to the goddess Kawakami Gozen. It’s a big shrine located in the far corner of a rural town in a rural prefecture. It’s essentially the last building before you enter the mountains. Legend has it hundreds and hundreds of years ago, she came down from this mountain and taught the locals how to make paper. Since then, Echizen has been an important center of traditional Japanese paper (washi). Incidentally, it has special meaning to me because it is the shrine where my wife and I got married.

In this above video, you can watch as the priests leave early in the morning from the shrine at the base of the mountain. They wear a little backpack like structure, which is a house for a god. Normally instead of a mini backpack, there is a massive and majestic golden palanquin carried by many people. But for social distancing, this year it’s just a priest with a backpack.

They travel to the top of the mountain, and take the goddess and her family out of the shrines where they live during the year. They then take her down, and re-enshrine here in the village for the day.

She visits each of the local shrines at that time, and the local villagers all pay their respects. (This is where the shrine battles take place, because each village doesn’t want the goddess to leave. They want her to stay with them for the year.) Obviously that is not part of this video, but it’s my favorite festival during other years.

Finally, at the end of the day, there is another long ceremony, and she is placed back into the palanquin (or backpack) and carried back up the mountain to her home at the top. Normally, this is done in the pitch black (lit only by hand held paper lanterns), up a dangerous mountain trail, by drunk villagers carrying a heavy golden palanquin. Even when I was not drunk or carrying a shrine, I was afraid of falling and breaking my neck, so I can’t imagine how they do this every year.

Anyway, it’s really cool to get a unique perspective of this ritual, even though it’s unfortunate that the festivals had to be canceled.

A-Yokai-A-Day: Ino Mononoke Roku, Day 21

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This year for #ayokaiaday we are looking at the bizarre occurrences which took place at the Ino residence in Miyoshi, Hiroshima, during July of 1749. These occurrences all revolve around a young boy named Ino Heitaro. His story is collected in Ino mononoke roku, a collection of scrolls, books, and legends which collectively form the narrative of a supernatural phenomenon that took place 270 years ago.

It was now three full weeks since Ino Heitaro’s haunting began. Pretty much anybody would need a break by now. Even with all of his bravery, surely Heitaro must be starting to crack?

Heitaro decided to read a book to clear his mind. Unfortunately, there was no way he was going to read uninterrupted…

The shadow of a person appeared on the wall in the light from his lantern. The shadow was so clearly cast that Heitaro could make out every detail. It looked like a human reading a book out loud.

Heitaro watched the shadow’s mouth and tried to read its lips, but he couldn’t make out what it was saying…

December-January Japan Trip

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My wife’s brother happened to get married in December, which provided us the perfect excuse to go back to Japan for a short trip. With the Christmas and New Years holidays around the corner as well, it made sense to extend the vacation a bit and spend the whole month in Japan. This was awesome not only for the wedding, but because I got to spend my birthday, Christmas, and New Years (the absolute BEST Japanese holiday) in Japan, as well as having the chance to tour around and do some yokai research and collect visual reference for my next book. 続きを読む December-January Japan Trip

百鬼夜行@スペースオイチ

日本では、夏といえば何か怖いホラーの季節のイメージがあります。(アメリカではハロウィーンの時期ということで遅めの秋がホラーシーズンですからちょっと違いますね)夏にには毎年新作のホラー映画がでてきて、怪談話もあちこちで聞かれるようになります。死者が蘇る時期でもありますね。夏の暑さ対策にはもってこいです!

と、言うことで・・・夏です!妖怪の季節がやってきました!涼しくなりたい皆さんに朗報です。私の本「The Night Parade of One Hundred Demons」の妖怪たちの展示がスペースおいちさんで開催されます。

Hyakki Yagyou poster
Hyakki Yagyou, 7/26-8/16 @ Space Oichi

展示は7月27日から8月16日まで、時間はAM11時~PM7時30分までです。フェニックス祭りをはさんで展示が行われますので、お祭りに来られた際には是非立ち寄って見てください!

場所は福井市中央1-17-1アップルビル2Fです。妖怪たちがあなたを待っていますよ!