O-Miki warm-up, soul and body

“Mikagura” is rarely executed in public, and indeed the environment may kill the intensity of this highly mystical Shinto ritual. On purified grounds, at the bottom of the long staircase, the Nincho (leader of the Mikagura) welcomes the Kami (deity), lights the fires. Then Kagura (music), songs and Gagaku (dance) make that precious piece of time “enjoyable” until the Kami is sent off by the Nincho. It has been performed and orally transmitted continuously at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu in Kamakura since the late 12th century. I was there on a cold December night. Impressive. The generous body warm-up (after the soul) following the ceremony was welcome: o miki (sake offered to the shrine for consecration), brewed by nearby Kumazawa shuzou, makers of excellent Tensei sake. [ritual photo by Bernard Souroque, sake picture by ME!]

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