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Shirahata-san Snake 2024

At the beginning of the month, on the day of the Hatsu-u Sai (“First Rabbit Festival”, held on the first day of the rabbit in March), Shirahata Hachiman Daijin, my local jinja, put up a new straw snake on the torii at the top of the steps to the jinja. This year, I arrived at the jinja while they were putting the snake on the torii, so I was able to take photographs. Fortunately, everyone was concentrating on the snake, and had their backs to me, so I can put the pictures online without violating anyone’s privacy. (Click on any image for a larger version.)

You can see that most of the people are wearing similar happi, the light jackets with the design on the back. The design is the characters for “Hachiman”, with the two strokes of the “Hachi” drawn as birds, and bird-like elements in the “Man” character as well. This is because Hachiman’s sacred animal is the dove. These happi are worn by the inner circle of jinja ujiko, and I’m not exactly sure what the qualifications are. (The two people not wearing the jackets in the second photograph are members of the ujiko families, so it may be that you have to be the current head of the family. I could ask, but this is the sort of thing that might have sensitive local politics involved…)

This year’s snake is, I think, particularly fluffy.

A close up of the straw snake on the torii. Lots of long strands of straw stand out all around its body, making it look fluffy.

And it has particularly googly eyes.

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3 thoughts on “Shirahata-san Snake 2024”

    1. I don’t think it has a name — certainly, not one that I’ve been told. But “straw snake” (which is what “wara no hebi” means) would not be a bad choice.

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