Itabashi Suwa Jinja Ta-Asobi

Itabashi Suwa Jinja Ta-Asobi

January or February
The rice crop is crucial to the Japanese, and various rituals are observed to please the kami, or god, who is ultimately responsible for a good harvest. These rice-growing rituals can be traced back to ancient times, although the significance of some has been long forgotten. Since spring begins to emerge in January, signalling the nearness of the new planting season, people perform traditional rituals for a good crop. It is not uncommon to see offerings in rice paddies, usually consisting of charms affixed to plants believed to give good luck, such as pine, chestnut, and bamboo during January. The most popular time to observe these rituals is between January 11 and the night of the full moon.
The festival known as Itabashi Suwa Jinja Ta-Asobi, held at the Suwa Shrine in Tokyo, began as a thanksgiving ritual to the god of the rice paddies ( Ta-no-kami ) in return for the granting of a plentiful harvest. There is also a mikoshi parade—mikoshi are the portable shrines or palanquins identified with the gods during their visits to earth—singing, and food. One area is set aside for the performance of traditional dances, which include a rice-planting dance, a weeding dance, a chasing-away-the-bird dance, and a fertility dance. At the end of the festival, a big bonfire is lighted and huge drums are played.
CONTACTS:
Association for Itabashi International Communications
Itabashi City Hall
2-66-1 Itabashi-ku
Tokyo, 173-8501 Japan
81-3-3579-2015; fax: 81-3-3579-4211
www.city.itabashi.tokyo.jp/c_kurashi/005/005929.ht
SOURCES:
JapanFest-1965, pp. 92, 119