Japan from the inside out


Posted by ampontan on Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Narazuhiko Shinto shrine in Nara City repairs and rebuilds one of its three shrine pavilions every 20 years, and this year was one of those years. The focus this time was on roof repair. When the work was finished, the shrine presented a performance of okinamai. Designated an important intangible cultural treasure of the nation, okinamai is a “Shinto ritual and play of prayer) thought to be the origin of Noh.

This site provides a more detailed explanation, one part of which notes that the actors go through a period of “purifying abstention and fasting” before the performance because it is a Shinto ritual.

Here’s what the shrine’s performance looks like. The interesting part for me is the relatively casual behavior of the audience, despite the high seriousness of the performance itself. The audience is also as close to the performance as an audience can get.

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