-･- From My Everyday Life to Japanese Culture -･- Why don't you see the real Japan, not the typical foreigners' version.
This prestigious Shinto ritual takes place at Azabu Hikawa Shrine (麻布氷川神社), local Shinto deity of my town during Shrine festival every year.
My sister and I participated in the ritual by chance last September.
We went there to see Shinto music and dance numbers on the festival day and came across the ritual. After I took these pictures, a member of my neighborhood association who attended it found us and persuaded us to have a seat.
There were five Shinto priests and gagaku (雅楽, ancient Japanese court music) players though the pictures doesn’t show all of them.
Participants except us were elders of neighborhood associations, and the ritual was performed with stateliness.
I had a strange sensation of going back in time during the ritual.
I felt as if I were in ancient Azabu in Edo period (1603-1868) when it was a peaceful suburb, in an earlier time when it was the open field.
Originally, Azabu Hikawa Shrine was established in the mid-8th century and relocated to the present location in1659. I’m not sure when the festival in present style started, but there is an old print art that shows the festival in 1832. So, the ritual has taken place at least for past 178 years.
Azabu drastically changed during those 179 years, and it’s still changing.
There are a lot of visitors and residents who do not root oneself in Azabu and its community.
I was deeply impressed with the fact that no matter how Azabu changes and how many people come and go, the locals continue the ritual without making a fuss.