Bebe Taian: Haru Shanichi, "Shrine Day"

March 21, 2012

Haru Shanichi, "Shrine Day"

Haru Shanichi, also known as "Harusha" or "Shunsha", is the day after the Spring Equinox. On this day, shrine visits are made especially, and favours are begged of the Earth Gods.

Ta no Kami (Rice field gods) or "sanbai" (field gods) are invoked. Special rice-planting songs are sung, not only to keep rhythm when planting the fields, but in order to worship the gods who will bring good harvest. Dances will also be performed, but these happy (and serious) rituals have become nearly extinct. Machinery has all but replaced the aging farmers, and few young people rely on the old methods to sustain crops designed to feed a burgeoning population. The dances and songs are not performed by many people any more, and attempts to record them have been somewhat futile. Some say that it is insulting to the gods. After all, to have their special days recorded and replayed for people who have no faith in them is surely insulting to the religious groups who worship those gods.

If you are very lucky, perhaps you will get to experience a real, old-style rice planting in your lifetime.

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