Otaue Rice Planting Festival
It is believed the dancing and music will enhance the vitality of the rice grains.
The Otaue Rice Planting Festival in Osaka is one of the most famous festivals in the Kansai region of Japan. The festival is held every June 14 at the famous Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine and is an ancient Shinto festival to pray for a rich rice harvest. The festival is said to have taken place every year since 211.
Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine also known as Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine is home to the festival and is a Shinto shrine located in the Sumiyoshi ward of Osaka. It is the main and most famous of over two thousand Sumiyoshi shrines found across Japan and is fondly called “Sumiyoshi-san” by the locals. Sumiyoshi shrines enshrine the kami (Shinto gods) who protect travelers, fishermen and sailors.
The rice planting festival starts off with the rice paddies being tilled by wooden plows pulled by decorated oxen. The participants, dressed in brightly colored traditional outfits then take part in a special purification ritual where the rice seedlings are purified. Next, the priests present the rice seedlings that have been grown in the nursery to be planted. The participants then proceed to plant the seedlings in the rice paddy.
The highlight of the festival is the ancient Shinto rituals and spectacular dance performances and songs that go along with it. The dancing is performed while the planting is underway and is accompanied by traditional Japanese instruments, including shamisen and taiko drums.
The Japanese believe that powerful spirits dwell inside the rice seedlings and the dancing entertains the spirits so they grow strong…
It is believed the dancing and music will enhance the vitality of the rice grains. The Japanese believe that powerful spirits dwell inside the rice seedlings and the dancing entertains the spirits so they grow strong and healthy providing a good harvest come the autumn.
The festival’s success can be seen in the bountiful harvest of the rice crops in autumn. Once the rice has been harvested, offerings of rice are made to the shrine deity in October. Another highlight of the festival is the procession of samurai warriors decked out in full samurai armor. The climax of the festival is the “Sumiyoshi Dance” performed by 150 girls from the local elementary and junior high schools.
This article was originally published on the GaijinPot Blog.