Muddy men seek bamboo tree in Mie festival for rich harvest
The Asahi Shimbun by YOSHIHIRO OGINO/ Staff Writer Jun 25, 2017
SHIMA, Mie Prefecture--In a muddy and sloppy rice field, half-naked men competed for a bamboo tree decorated with a huge “uchiwa” (paper fan) during an annual rice-planting festival here on June 24.
About 40 men participated in the “Taketori-shinji (Bamboo-capturing ritual) held in the Izawanomiya shrine in the Isobecho district of Shima, Mie Prefecture.
After the mud-covered participants toppled the 15-meter-high bamboo tree in the rice field, they rotated it as if drawing a circle.
After the Taketori-shinji, local children and adults, clad in traditional costumes, planted rice seedlings and danced graciously in accordance with “dengaku” (rice field music), praying for a bountiful harvest.
Mud-covered men carry a bamboo tree in a rice-planting festival in Shima, Mie Prefecture, on June 24. (Noboru Tomura)
The bamboo ritual is part of the “Isobe no omita” festival. Omita means a rice field owned by shrines, temples or the imperial family.
The Izawanomiya is an annex of Ise Jingu shrine in Ise, also in Mie Prefecture. The festival is designated by the central government as an important intangible folk cultural asset.
To watch a 43 sec. video of the ritual event, go HERE