Midsummer Rites

Summer Purification Rite Ceremony

Date : June 30th, 1pm

Location : Mito’s Hachimangu

It is said that ‘those who do the summer purification rites in June will live a thousand years’. During this religious ritual for purifying oneself of the sins and impurities that one has unknowingly accumulated over the last 6 months everyone forms a long procession and sings purification chants. After passing through a straw ring while reciting Japanese waka poetry the paper dolls that the sins and impurities have been transferred to are cast into the Naka river with prayers for health and well-being.

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Car Purification Straw Ring Passage

Date: June 24th

Location: Kasama Inari Shrine

As part of the rituals for the Summer Purification Rites held on the last day of June, Kasama Inari Shrine will be holding a ‘Car Purification Straw Ring Passage’ in the parking lot of the Sashirosan Kasama Inari Shrine outer gardens.

The passage through the straw ring is a ritual designed to exorcise the sins and impurities unknowingly accumulated during the previous 6 months. To keep up with the rapidly progressing car-based society a 6m diameter straw ring, the biggest in Japan is set up so that vehicles can pass through it. As a way of praying for safe travels and avoiding accidents personal cars, large buses, construction trucks, and motorcycles pass through the straw ring in a figure eight pattern, left, right and left again for a total of 3 passages.

This year, after the Harley Davidson club has passed through the ring they will form a stirring parade.

Also, as part of accident prevention workshops, the JAF will be making available their Seatbelt Convincer which lets you experience what it would be like to be involved in a collision.

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Summer Purification Rites, Straw Ring Passage

Date: June 30th

Location: Kasama Inari Shrine

The Summer Purification Rites are held every year at Kasama Inari on June 30th. This ritual was originally recorded as an event of national scale in the Taiho code of the Asuka period (701 AD), and is performed on the last days of June and December respectively. The intent is to purify oneself of sins and impurities, return to your original self, and pray for new beginnings.

During this ritual, participants write their name, age, and birth date on paper dolls, rub the dolls against their bodies, and breathe life into them 3 times so that the dolls will act as a surrogate and take on the sins and impurities of the bearer. This ritual is similar to ‘Nakatomi Harae’, Japan’s oldest purification ritual; once the doll is created worshippers then pass through the straw ring to purify themselves while the dolls will later be cast into the ocean for purification.

The origins of the straw ring come from a lost passage of the Bigofudoki from the Shaku Nihongi (annotated version of the Nihon Shoki). During the era of the gods, as Susanoonomikoto was travelling towards the southern seas he sought shelter for the night from a pair of brothers named Sominshorai and Kotanshorai. Though Kotanshorai, the younger brother, was wealthy, he refused; conversely, the very poor older brother Sominshorai took in Susanoonomikoto and did his utmost to provide hospitality. Many years later Susanoonomikoto revisited Shominshorai and told him ‘when there is illness passing through the earthly kingdom, make a ring out of straw and place it around your hips and surely you will be saved’. From this incident the belief emerged that writing ‘Sominshorai’ and attaching it to your gate would ward off disaster and making a ring of straw and passing through it became a part of purification rites.

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