AMPONTAN

Japan from the inside out

Matsuri da! (128): The white horse

Posted by ampontan on Friday, August 3, 2012

THERE’S no telling what delights await rediscovery just by pulling down the old records from the top of the filing cabinet, blowing the dust off the cover, and opening the book.

The inspiration for this rediscovery was the wish to offer prayers for the recovery of the Tohoku area after last year’s triple disaster and the Kii Peninsula after the damage caused by Typhoon #12.

A ranch operator in Ibaragi suggested to the chief priest of the Niu Kawakami Shinto shrine in Shimoichi-cho, Nara, that an ancient ceremony once held at the shrine be revived. It was first held as a state festival in 763 — note the triple digits — to stop droughts or excessive rains. The tutelary deity of the shrine is the water divinity. When they wanted to end a drought, the Imperial court presented a black horse at the shrine. Stopping excessive rains required the presentation of a white horse. The damage from the tsunami and the typhoon called for the offering of a white horse, so one was borrowed from a riding club in Kyoto.

It might have taken them more than a few huffs to blow the dust off the records to check the procedures. The ceremony hadn’t been held since 1450, when they had had enough of the rains. For reasons unexplained, they stopped after that, and the custom wasn’t revived until this year.

For the first time in 562 years.

*****
There’s no video of the white horse — and certainly none of the black — but this short clip is still worth watching to see the attractive shrine at a beautiful location.

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2 Responses to “Matsuri da! (128): The white horse”

  1. […] elsewhere) were the offerings of black and white horses such as the ones still seen at the Festival at Niu Kawakami Shinto shrine in Shimoichi-cho, Nara The revival of an ancient ceremony once held as a state festival in 763 — the Imperial court […]

  2. […] elsewhere) were the offerings of black and white horses such as the ones still seen at the Festival at Niu Kawakami Shinto shrine in Shimoichi-cho, Nara. The shrine has revived an ancient ceremony once held as a state festival in 763 — the Imperial […]

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