Religious ritual in Aso coming this Monday

Diving into the origins of Aso can be very interesting. There is a lot of mythical tales about the caldera and the divinities who inhabited it. Some of these tales still have an impact in locals life nowadays. Today I will introduce you to an important Shinto ritual that ties directly to the past and that will be held in a couple days at Shimomiya Shrine. 

 

There is an area in Aso called Matoishi or if you want to give this name a direct translation, target stone. The story is that a famous deity used to practice archery using a large stone there as a target. Kihachi was a servant who was appointed to collect the arrows. But this one got tired of it and kicked back the 100th arrows. The deity became furious and according to some accounts defeated Kihachi. The vengeful Kihachi brought frost to Aso damaging the crops. To protect the crops, his soul was enshrined at Shimomiya Shrine. 

And this is where a very interesting and unique religious ritual is held every year starting mid august. A little girl is chosen among the locals to start a fire she will have to maintain during 59 days. It is possible to go see this ritual that will be held this Monday starting at 10 am. The shrine is situated about 5 minutes away by car from Aso station. You can look at these old pictures on this blog entry to get an idea of the atmosphere of this event but if you have an interest in local tradition or Japanese folklore, I can’t recommend you enough to participate. 

 

More pictures to come on our social networks after the ceremony!

Franck. 

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