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Kasuga Mukooshi Bridegroom Pushing Festival

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In this episode, we will introduce you to an Important Intangible Cultural Property of Japan, Kasuga Mukooshi.
Held in January every year in Kasuga City, Kasuga Shrine's Mukooshi Bridegroom Pushing Festival is one of the most unique in the entire country, as newly-married men from the previous year in shimekomi/fundoshi engage in rather rough, celebratory ceremonial activities.

Location: Kasuga, Kasuga City
Date: 2nd Sunday in January
Official name: Kasuga-no-Mukooshi (Kasuga Mukooshi Bridegroom Pushing Festival)

Kasuga Mukooshi Bridegroom Pushing Festival

Kasuga Mukooshi Bridegroom Pushing Festivalの画像

Kasuga Mukooshi Bridegroom Pushing Festival - a long-standing tradition of Kasuga Shrine in Fukuoka Prefecture - is one of the most unique festivities in the entire country, as it features newly-weds from the previous year in shimekomi/fundoshi engage in rather rough, celebratory ceremonial activities.

Kasuga Shrine

Kasuga Shrineの画像

Kasuga Shrine situated in Kasuga City, Fukuoka Prefecture. . .
It presumably dates back to when Prince Nakano Oe (later Emperor Tenji) consecrated Shinto deity "Ame-no-Koyane-no-mikoko" here in this region.

Dazai daini Fujiwara-no-Tamaro then relocated Kasuga Taisha from his hometown of Yamato (present-day Nara)to this location in 768 A.D. to enshrine the three Shinto deities, including Takemikazuchi.

Unveiling and send-off

Unveiling and send-off の画像

Kasuga Mikooshi is the shrine's traditional event held a day before Coming of Age Day.
Spotlight is on the newly-weds from the previous year.
Elder shrine prishioners all gather here as the grooms give salutations and receive communional sake for the "lodging ceremony. Such is how the ceremonial unveiling and send-off of the festivity begins
The origin of the event is unknown though, it was selected in 1995 as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan.

Taruseri (Barrel-hawking)

Taruseri (Barrel-hawking)の画像

As the lodging ceremony concludes, the grooms and the prishioners would gear up in fundoshi and receive a purification rite in front of the sanctum.
A young leader of the pack chugs down a half liter of atoned sake out of a barrel.
Then follows the main event of Taruseri (barrel-hawking) in the Miike Pond.
Some 50 men in fundoshi try to battle for a piece of the sacred sake barrel in the splashing, frigid pond.
Wooden pieces of the broken barrel, believed to bring fortune, are then brought back by those who retrieved them to...consecrated at the altar as an invocation for good luck and a plenty of harvest for the year.
As Taruseri comes to a close, the attendants head down to Kasuga River for...Oshioitori (sand collecting ritual) and then back to the main sanctum once again.

Haidenmomi - moshing performed in the sanctum by the bridegrooms is believed to nurture healthy children when they participate in it.

The crowd would move down to the Torii gate, lastly, for Wakamizu-iwai ceremony.
They would surround the grooms and place traditional hand towels over them as they sing a celebration song together.
The entire ceremony comes to an end with dashing of wakamizu water over the group, followed by the parading around the Sagitcho bonfire.
Kasuga Mukooshi Bridegroom Pushing Festival -- held early in the year, hailing from water ceremonies -- is one of the rarest forms of Shinto festivities found in western Japan.

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