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Ceremonial Rice-Planting

RikutoY_paddy field
Written by Life in Kansai

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RikutoY_paddy field

Image: RikutoY, Flickr

June’s rice-planting festivals take place at several shrines in Kansai, so get out and experience one of these colourful events for yourself.
 

The huge significance that rice, as Japan’s staple crop, carries in this country is evident from the early summer festival of Otaue. Some southern areas of Japan produce two crops per year, but in most of the country rice is planted in early summer, then grows and ripens over the hot and humid summer months, ready for the autumn harvest. To ensure a plentiful, successful crop, Japanese people have for centuries taken part in a Shinto festival that celebrates the planting of this most fundamental of grains.

Sumiyoshi_jinja_Otaue

Image: Sumiyoshi Otaue, 1930.

 
Each year, at the Otaue Matsuri, rice seedlings are taken from the nurseries in which they began life and replanted into the shrine’s paddy field. This relatively straightforward-sounding process is transformed into a ceremony in which people dressed in colourful traditional outfits perform dances and songs
A_Couple_Viewing_Rice_Planting_LACMA_16.16.18

Image: A couple viewing rice planting (18th-century woodcut).

and play instruments in a celebration to pray for the strength and resilience of the rice, as well as for rain to nourish the crop. At some shrines there are even performances of traditional theatre arts and staged samurai battles.
 

The Kansai area offers some excellent chances to see a rice-planting festival for yourself. One of the most famous of Japan’s Otaue Matsuri takes place each year at Osaka’s Sumiyoshi Taisha. In this festival the rice paddy is first ploughed in the traditional manner using oxen and a wooden plough. Ritual purification of the rice seedlings then takes place before they are planted. The energetic and elaborate dancing and musical performances that accompany the planting build up to the Sumiyoshi Odori, a dance by a 150-strong team of girls from local schools.
 

As well as providing you with a lively and entertaining afternoon, attending an Otaue Matsuri acts as a powerful reminder of the importance of rice in Japanese culture. Have a look at the information below to find one in your area.
 

Sumiyoshi Taisha Otaue, Osaka. 14th June, 1pm. (www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/spot/festival/otauericeplanting.html)
Fushimi Inari Taisha Taue-sai, Kyoto. 10th June, 1pm. (inari.jp/rite/?month=6%E6%9C%88)
Taga Taisha Otaue-sai, Shiga. 5th June, 1pm. (www.tagataisya.or.jp/event/)
Izawanomiya Otaue Matsuri, Mie. 24th June. (japancheapo.com/events/izawanomiya-otaue-festival/)
 


By Life in Kansai


RikutoY_paddy field

Image: RikutoY, Flickr

June’s rice-planting festivals take place at several shrines in Kansai, so get out and experience one of these colourful events for yourself.
 

The huge significance that rice, as Japan’s staple crop, carries in this country is evident from the early summer festival of Otaue. Some southern areas of Japan produce two crops per year, but in most of the country rice is planted in early summer, then grows and ripens over the hot and humid summer months, ready for the autumn harvest. To ensure a plentiful, successful crop, Japanese people have for centuries taken part in a Shinto festival that celebrates the planting of this most fundamental of grains.

Sumiyoshi_jinja_Otaue

Image: Sumiyoshi Otaue, 1930.

 
Each year, at the Otaue Matsuri, rice seedlings are taken from the nurseries in which they began life and replanted into the shrine’s paddy field. This relatively straightforward-sounding process is transformed into a ceremony in which people dressed in colourful traditional outfits perform dances and songs
A_Couple_Viewing_Rice_Planting_LACMA_16.16.18

Image: A couple viewing rice planting (18th-century woodcut).

and play instruments in a celebration to pray for the strength and resilience of the rice, as well as for rain to nourish the crop. At some shrines there are even performances of traditional theatre arts and staged samurai battles.
 

The Kansai area offers some excellent chances to see a rice-planting festival for yourself. One of the most famous of Japan’s Otaue Matsuri takes place each year at Osaka’s Sumiyoshi Taisha. In this festival the rice paddy is first ploughed in the traditional manner using oxen and a wooden plough. Ritual purification of the rice seedlings then takes place before they are planted. The energetic and elaborate dancing and musical performances that accompany the planting build up to the Sumiyoshi Odori, a dance by a 150-strong team of girls from local schools.
 

As well as providing you with a lively and entertaining afternoon, attending an Otaue Matsuri acts as a powerful reminder of the importance of rice in Japanese culture. Have a look at the information below to find one in your area.
 

Sumiyoshi Taisha Otaue, Osaka. 14th June, 1pm. (www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/spot/festival/otauericeplanting.html)
Fushimi Inari Taisha Taue-sai, Kyoto. 10th June, 1pm. (inari.jp/rite/?month=6%E6%9C%88)
Taga Taisha Otaue-sai, Shiga. 5th June, 1pm. (www.tagataisya.or.jp/event/)
Izawanomiya Otaue Matsuri, Mie. 24th June. (japancheapo.com/events/izawanomiya-otaue-festival/)
 


By Life in Kansai


 

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