The religious ceremonies and lively procession of the festival may look unrelated at first glance, but are actually integrally related. According to Shinto beliefs, people enjoying themselves pleases the local deity and other gods which bring their blessings. By having a happy time, the local deity joins their people.
September 10: Festival Eve Vigil
The head priest, festival organizers, and leaders from every neighborhood gather to pay their respects at the shrine before the beginning of the festival. After offerings are given, neighborhood leaders receive blessed sake and amulets. Each float then receives a blessing before leaving the shrine grounds and making their way to their neighborhoods.
September 10: Night Events
A ceremony is held during the evening at Odate Shinmeisha Shrine with festival organizers and participants in attendance. After a purification ceremony, the doors to the inner sanctum are opened and the priest chants prayers accompanied by music. Participants then offer up a ceremonial branch at the alter in conclusion.
September 11: Main Festival
Ceremonies & Route
On the morning of the main festival, the head priest of Odate Shinmeisha Shrine performs a purification ceremony and prayers for the participants who in turn present offerings to the shrine.
The omikoshi portable shrine used today was constructed in 1874 after the original was destroyed in a fire. In the past, parishioners carried the omikoshi or had cattle pull the omikoshi on a cart. Nowadays, the omikoshi is loaded onto a vehicle and driven around the festival.
Overtime the procession from the shrine has grown shorter. In 1887 there were ten different parties that walked in front of floats. In recent years only the most important five groups take the lead.
The procession head to the Nagakuramachi area where the Shinmeisha Shrine was originally located to perform a traditional ritual. Afterwards, the omikoshi travels around the original four neighborhoods of the parish and outlying areas. Around four o’clock the omikoshi is brought back to the shrine.
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