Aso’s characteristic ritual: Hitaki Shinji

Hello from Michi No Eki Aso!

It’s 4 degrees in this morning and now 17 degrees, getting warmer day by day here in Aso.Today I would like to introduce Aso’s specific characteristic Shimo shrine’s ritual. 

 A local young girl called “Hitaki Otome” (火焚き乙女) is chosen to maintain a bonfire for 59 days. She stay in a place called Hitaki-den.

Beautiful roof tiles of Hitaki-den.

 

Normally shrine have main hall and small shrine is close to that.

This is Shimo shrine.

Hiraki- den is 2 minutes walk cross small road to Shimo shrine and not next to main hall. Actually Hitaki- den is specifically bigger than Shimo shrine.

Observation window 👀 in Hitaki den.

 

Hitaki ritual (ritual of fire) is a famous ritual held to appease the anger of Kihachi. It is said that in ancient times, Takeiwatatsu no Mikoto, one of the main deities of Aso, brought with him his servant Kihachi for practicing archery. Kihachi was charged to retrieve the arrows but exhausted, he threw back the 100th arrow with his foot. Furious, Takeiwatatsu no Mikoto cut off Kihachi’s head. After reaching the heaven, Kihachi began to bring frost to Aso, and Shimo Shrine was established in Yakuinbaru area to appease his spirit.

This Shinto ritual is one of the Aso’s agricultural festivals that were designated as a national selected intangible folklore cultural property in 1982.

This is another Aso’s agricultural festival called Hifuri Shinji.

 

Aso’s rituals are connected with fire elements. This is one of the reason why Kumamoto prefecture is called “land of fire” ( 火の国).

Please come to Aso and enjoy our ritual festivals!

Have a nice Saturday♪

Thea

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