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  • Akiko

Procession by men dressed as women

A book entitled Tensai kara Nihonshi wo Yominaosu, Rereading Japanese history through natural disasters, written by Dr. Isoda Michifumi, a Japanese historian specializing the politics of Edo period shows us how we can protect ourselves from natural disasters giving examples of tsunami, earthquakes, landslides, and the eruption of Mt. Fuji by demonstrating the historical records and descriptions.

After reading this, I got the idea that we can find Shinto ceremonies with dance performances, after a catastrophe.

The procession, called Omiyukisan in Yamanashi, is one example of preventing the natural disaster. It is held every April 15th.

The picture above is from the site of the Tourist Office of Yamanashi.

Yamanashi prefecture is located at the center of Japan, surrounded by high mountains. The Kofu basin is a flood-prone area because of differences in elevations, and the complex pathway of Kamanashi river.

According to the transmission, the procession Omiyukisan was held in 825 for the first time, according to the order of Emperor Jun'na after a big flood to prevent disasters from Kamanashi river. The oldest primary source is a letter from Takeda Shingen to Asama shrine, dated in 1588. The procession has a concrete purpose to tread the riverside. It starts from the Asama shrine and continues to the riverside. This distance is 24km!! Furthermore, you have to come back to the shrine. For this reason, worshippers use a particular interjection: sokodai! which literally means "almost there". Their steps seem to be particular as well as their interjection.

Another characteristic of this procession is that worshippers who make a procession while carrying the portable shrine must dress as females not to make surprise the deity of Asama shrine who is a princess.

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