Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The Hattanda Naked Festival ・ 八反田の裸参り

I live in the neighborhood of Hattanda. It is a small gathering of about 50 households nearby the village hall. When I first arrived in Inakadate, the people of Hattanda were busy with the Neputa Festival. They unhesitatingly welcomed me to join them.

One of the first things I heard about then on those hot summer evenings of August was that the Hattanda neighborhood does a “Naked Shrine Visit” early on the morning of January 1st. Everyone seemed very proud of it. Of course I asked then, isn’t it cold? to which they replied, “yes it is, but it is fun too.”
その暑い8月の晩、ねぶたに参加している間に、最初に聞いた一つは、八反田部落が1月1日の 朝に裸参りをすることでした。皆が大変誇りに思っていたようです。もちろん、その時「寒くないですか」と聞きましたが、それに対して皆が「そうですが、楽 しいですよ!」と答えてくれました。

In the past five months, I nearly completely forgot about the festival but toward the end of last year one of the members came and asked me if I wanted to participate. Of course I said yes!

On the morning of January 1st, I woke up early and went to the neighborhood community center. There we had a drink or two and then walked through the neighborhood rousing people with a drum and giving them a year’s worth of good luck with a bite of the lion.

After that we returned to the community center and got ready. Basically this meant taking off most of our clothes and having a drink or too to warm us from within. Once we started the walk to the shrine about 100 meters away was pretty quick. Perhaps because of the cold weather, but we wasted no time carrying the new nawa (a fat rope) which would decorate the torii (gate) for the next year.
その後、会館に戻って、準備しました。準備というのは服の殆どを脱い で、体を内側から暖めるためにもう1杯を飲むことでした。立ってから、100メートルぐらい離れている神社までの散歩がすぐに終わりました。寒かったから でしょうが、僕たちはこれからの一年間に神社の鳥居にかける新しい縄をさっさと運んでいきました。

When we got to the shrine we carried the nawa right into the shrine building and learned that the priest hadn’t arrived yet. Waiting there kneeling on the floor of the shrine was the coldest part of the morning, but it didn’t last too long. When he arrived we had a short dedication ceremony and then went outside again.
神社に着いたら、そのまま縄を神殿の中まで運びました。そこに 座ったら、神主さんがまだ来ていないということを聞きました。そこに神社の床に正座して待つことが、朝の一番寒かったですが、そんなに長く待つ必要がな かったです。神主さんが着たら、短い奉納式をして、出て行きました。

Outside there was a large fire which we quickly surrounded. We took a bunch of photos, raised the nawa temporarily to its place on the torii and started back to the community center. There we ‘rewarmed ourselves from the inside’ and the whole day was done.

It was a great experience!! Thanks to all the people of Hattanda who asked me to participate in their traditional New Years event.

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