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Online Matsuri

As I have mentioned in the past, Jinja Honchō is generally extremely cautious about having any sort of online matsuri. However, the fact that COVID-19 has made it extremely unwise to hold many important matsuri in their normal forms, with large crowds of people, has led a number of important jinja to stream matsuri and other events online, so that people can maintain their connection to the jinja. In some cases, the priests introducing the live streams even ask people to pay reverence to the kami at the appropriate moments. That sort of “virtual sanpai” is a strong no-no, at least as far as Jinja Honchō is concerned, but they really can’t do anything about it. Criticising a jinja for it at the moment would look bad, and the jinja with the resources to do this also have enough resources that, if they leave Jinja Honchō, that is worse for Jinja Honchō than for the jinja.

This post is almost purely a connection of links to such videos. It’s far from exhaustive, and just the ones I know about. I suspect that there aren’t dozens more, but I strongly suspect that are at least some. I found out about the Ōharaëkotoba and the Kanda Myōjin videos from Jinja Shinpō, but one of my English students forwarded me a link to the Ōsaka Tenmangū one. It wouldn’t be surprising if there were some others that I hadn’t become aware of.

These videos are significant because they are videos of full matsuri, taken and uploaded by the jinja themselves, which makes them as legitimate as they can be. Not everyone in the Shinto world agrees with these decisions, but I don’t think anyone has the moral authority to override the priests of a particular jinja on that question. So, you can watch these without any feeling of guilt.

One problem is that the videos are entirely in Japanese. There are, in many cases, Japanese commentaries, but I really, really wouldn’t trust the automatic translation function in these cases… You can, at least, enjoy the sights and sounds.

The first one is not actually a matsuri. It is a recitation of the Ōharaëkotoba, with music and images, created by the organisation for young priests in northern Tokyo prefecture — the rural bit of the prefecture. (Yes, Tokyo prefecture has rural bits.) This one has some English in the video explanation, so it is worth clicking to read more. This one is short (six minutes), and very nicely put together, so it is worth watching.

Next, we have the full Nagoshi Ōharaëshiki, the summer purification ceremony. This was performed at Kanda Myōjin, in Tokyo, on June 30th this year. This is not strictly a matsuri, which is why it is called “shiki” rather than “sai”, but it has a lot of elements in common. This one also includes mikomai, or sacred dance performed by the miko. Kanda Myōjin may be the oldest jinja in Tokyo; it’s centuries older than the city, at any rate. The full ceremony is an hour long.

Staying at Kanda Myōjin, this video is of the Tsukinamisai, a matsuri that is held twice every month. The picture and sound quality are not fantastic, but this is an “ordinary” matsuri, albeit at a large and wealthy jinja. At a more typical jinja there might be only one priest performing it, but this sort of thing is a standard part of Shinto practice.

Kanda Myōjin also has a grand festival, or Reitaisai, every year. This matsuri is held in “full” form every two years, when it is one of the largest matsuri in Tokyo. This year was, I think, supposed to be the off year anyway, and the pandemic meant that it had to be further abbreviated. However, the “shinji”, the ceremonies performed in front of the kami, were performed in full, and streamed live for the benefit of all the people who had been asked not to attend to avoid spreading infection. This video, which is about 55 minutes, is the archived version of that.

2020/08/18 Edit: The video of the Tenjin Matsuri, below, has been removed or set to private by the jinja. I do not expect it to come back, but I will leave the link and the comments just in case.

Finally, this is the Tenjin Matsuri at Ōsaka Tenmamgū. This was also livestreamed, and the first thirty minutes of this video are just the “please wait” screen. (My blog does not seem to be respecting my attempts to link to the point where things start happening; if the video starts at the beginning, go forward to about 30 minutes.) This is also, I think, the largest matsuri held at this jinja, and it was also seriously cut down this year. Once again, however, the ceremonies before the kami were not reduced; the whole thing is over an hour long (although the few minutes of the video are, again, a “please wait” kind of screen).

I hope that these are interesting even without any English interpretation. The Japanese commentaries are informative, and I would like to find time to watch all of them in full (no, I haven’t had chance yet — although I have actually attended the Tsukinamisai at Kanda Myōjin in the past), but they are unlikely to be helpful for most of my audience.

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2 thoughts on “Online Matsuri”

  1. For your information: The last video does not work (anymore). It displays a message after clicking “! null
    If the owner of this video has granted you access, please sign in.”

    But thank you for the links. I will view these videos with interest.

    1. Thanks for the comment. It looks as though they deleted the video or set it to be private. I will edit the article to note that.

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