The Shingu Fireplace Competition’Tanomude! Tanomude! Tanomude!’ That is what you’ll hear because the solar goes down in Shingu Metropolis yearly on February sixth.Because the winter darkness falls over the town, the candy aroma of ‘amazake’ (candy white sake) fills the chilly air and the streets slowly fill with over 2000 males and boys of all ages getting their spirits up earlier than becoming a member of within the Oto Matsuri (Fireplace Competition).This 1400 12 months previous pageant is imbued with primordial energies and is the place boys come to change into males and the place males change into boys and the soul is purified by the fires of 2000 flaming torches.Many males will write their needs on these wood torches with wood streamers that can quickly be lighting up the darkness below Gotobiki Iwa after scaling up a steep stone pathway midway up Chihogamine Mountain or what can be known as Mt. Gongen.Just like the sound of an historical infantry approaching the sound of ‘Tanomude! Tanomude! Tanomude!’ will get louder and louder as an increasing number of very excited males and boys fill the streets and extra amazake is consumed.Roaming up and down virtually each road on their approach to do Sanshamairi (paying respect to Asuka Jinja, Hayatama Taisha, and Myoshinji) teams of males and boys cross one another and strike one another’s torches, typically a little bit wildly and violently, with a loud thump shouting ‘Tanomude! Tanomude!’I’ve to confess that my first expertise of this pageant was a little bit intimidating being one of many few ‘hakujin’ (white males) on the streets.The thought did cross my thoughts that my ‘gaijin’ head would possibly stick out properly as a goal for a very excited Noboriko or two. Certainly, for the inattentive, ‘gaijin’ foreigners or Japanese alike, who inadvertently discover their heads in between a few swinging torches, a little bit blood might stream earlier than even reaching Kamikura.Most ‘Noboriko’ are very peaceable however in such a testosterone stuffed pageant there are a couple of boys and males who drink a little bit an excessive amount of amazake and get a little bit sloppy with their goal when putting collectively their unlit torches. So, in the event you take part simply preserve a vigilant eye out for swinging torches and you’ll be nice.The environment is electrical and charged with potent male power and the joy builds the nearer we get to the Kamikura Shrine. As soon as we end winding by the streets we make our approach to decrease Torii (shrine gate) and begin our ascent up the steep stone steps to collect with the opposite Noboriko. After about 45 minutes all 2000 of us are corralled right into a small space behind the shrine gate ready for it to be thrown open.The sensation is kind of exhilarating to be confined with 2000 different ‘properly lubricated’ males with flames, ashes, and smoke burning your eyes. I’m positive for some the expertise generally is a little horrifying and intimidating.From a small spark of flint to a small flame ultimately 2000 torches are steadily lit. When the gate flies open there’s a mad rush down the steep steps to the underside the place ambulances and police are ready…simply in case!Fortunately, on this comparatively harmful pageant, you possibly can just about select your degree of pleasure and hazard. If you need a quiet time you possibly can entice that power to you. If you wish to be within the thick of the ‘male power’ you possibly can select that too and ingesting a little bit extra amazake can assist you alongside in that regard.Most individuals take part with one other group of males when collaborating and the extent of male power you expertise might rely on the group you take part with.The primary time I joined within the pageant it was with a gaggle of Aikido practitioners, i.e. ‘martial artists’. These have been younger sturdy males doing martial arts twice a day and who usually like being on the centre of all the joy. That have was fairly thrilling as we have been all gathered the near the entrance gate the place all of the extra aggressive and energetic younger males have a tendency to collect. The torches have been flying, fights have been breaking out, and the blood was trickling from a couple of brows, all a part of the expertise. Fortunately I escaped with no injury and loved being within the entrance of the pack because the ‘Kaishaku’ holding the gates closed allow them to fly open and we started working down the mountain at breakneck velocity.I need to emphasize that these 800 12 months previous stone steps are so steep that grown males discover them scary to WALK down. Right here you’ve got 2000 males most of whom are half drunk, or utterly drunk, RUNNING feverishly down this mountain – therefore, the ambulance and police presence.One other time I joined the pageant the group was a little bit extra relaxed. That point we slowly made our approach to the again and perched ourselves excessive on a rock overlooking the pandemonium. That’s the place youngsters, infants, older males, and people simply wishing a extra relaxed expertise gravitate.On today all of the ‘Noboriko’ gown up in ‘Shiroshozoku’, a standard white uniform with an enormous straw rope wrapped round their waist, and a white head cowl to maintain the approaching fireplace off their heads. Child boys are wrapped up on the backs of the lads for his or her first journey up the mountain.In Japan the lifeless are historically wearing white clothes and white is usually thought of a colour of purity and cleanliness. One other identify for that is ‘Shinishozoku’ or ‘dying material’.I used to be informed that the Noboriko gown up on this ‘dying material’ as a result of the Oto Matsuri (Fireplace Competition) is symbolic of a sort of dying of the previous and rebirth of the brand new.Annually Noboriko ascend the stone steps and go away ‘konoyo’ or ‘this world’ on the base of the mountain and enter into ‘Anoyo’ or ‘the opposite world’ at Kamikura Shrine on the facet of Mt. Gongen and emerge out of the flames on the mountain symbolizing ‘yomigaeri’ which may be translated as ‘revival’ or ‘resurrection’.Solely white meals like tofu, white pickles, rice, may be eaten, solely white drinks like amazake may be consumed, and the lads should abstain from sexual exercise on the very least in the course of the day of the pageant. I used to be informed this abstinence was of longer length in historical occasions however lately a minimum of at some point is the minimal.I bear in mind beginning to do an Om chant on certainly one of my extra relaxed Oto Matsuri experiences. After a couple of minutes my mates began to hitch in and it felt like we have been making a sound wave that flowed over the entire group of 2000. It could have been my creativeness, however it appeared as if the group was changing into quieter and a sort of sacred peace was settling in over the shrine precincts particularly within the again space the place we have been sitting.Throughout this pageant I felt a way of oneness with my fellow Noboriko with no boundaries of tradition or nationality and no discrimination. I additionally felt at one with the mountain and sacred pure deity that resides on Mr. Gongen and Kamikura.Whenever you take part on this pageant I imagine you’ve got one of many few alternatives to essentially really feel what it’s prefer to be Japanese and to enter into the spirit of ‘Actual Japan’.I’ve to say that this was one of the crucial memorable experiences of the final 24 years of residing in Japan and extremely suggest it whether or not you’re younger or previous, sturdy or weak, Japanese or non-Japanese.
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