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New Snake

The straw snake on the torii
Yesterday was the first day of the rabbit in March this year, so my local jinja, Shirahata Hachiman Daijin, held its Hatsu-u Matsuri, or First Rabbit Festival. As part of this, a large straw snake, with vegetables for facial features and a wooden sword sticking out of its tail, is made and tied onto the inner torii.
The snake from the side of the path, with its face visible.
The snake is left in place until the summer matsuri, in July, and so gets a bit battered over time. Today, however, it’s still fairly fresh.

Close-up of the snake's face, with googly eyes painted on root vegtables
Hello, Googly Eyes!

2 thoughts on “New Snake”

  1. Thank you for the great post. I found this to be an interesting tradition (and quite cute). Do you happen to know what the snake’s purpose is or perhaps the story behind it? I would be interested in knowing.

    1. There’s more about the matsuri in my book. It’s connected to the harvest, but I don’t know exactly what the snake symbolises. It’s possible that no-one does; the matsuri is over three centuries old, which is quite old enough for things to be done simply because that’s how they’ve always been done. The fact that the priests did not explain the symbolism when I was asking them about the meaning of the matsuri suggests that the original intent may well be lost in the mists of time — or a secret.

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