Japan autumn tour Shinto fire ceremony
A torii stands at the entrance to Shinto Shrines throughout Japan demarcating the boundary between the non-sacred and the sacred. This one is at the original site of Kirishima Jingu where every year on November 10th a fire ceremony is held to celebrate the descent of the goddess Amaterasu’s son Ninigi-no-mikoto’s descent from heaven. Join the Japan autumn tour in November 2017 to participate in this fabulous community event. As the sun sets behind the Torii, the priests start chanting to the music of ancient kagaku instruments. The mood is solemn and eerie on this mountainside where once stood the Kirishima Jingu Shinto Shrine before it was moved to lower ground away from the danger of volcanic eruption. The participants in the Japan autumn tour bow with silent locals during prayers and dedications. The priests throw wooden plaques on which people have written prayers into the fire so that the prayers will rise up with the smoke from the sacred fire. Taiko drumming and sake The mood becomes festive as drummers dressed as mountain spirits with long yellow and red tresses drum up a celebration of the relationship between nature and man. As the drums start, lights can be seen on the mountain top as climbers start their descent from the volcanic ridge to join the celebrants at the fire. Next, local residents perform a play, to the sounds of drums and flute, depicting one of the many stories of the gods’ bounty. When the play is over, participants in the Japan autumn tour line up with the locals to receive mochi (pounded rice cakes) and a package of rice, kombu seaweed, and katsuobushi (dried bonito) – the symbolic basis of a meal to be taken home as a talisman. The coals from the sacred fire are pulled to the side, grills placed on top so that the mochi can be toasted while priests, locals, and Japan autumn tour participants chat and drink warming sake.