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During the day, many people huddled together in front of the Otabisho to observe the performances which took place all day long. It was so incredibly cold, we were physically unable to remain standing outside for more than 2-3 hours at a time.  This means we actually missed some performances… guess I have to go back another year!  Perhaps the 875th one?!  Meanwhile, below, some documentation for you to enjoy.

My only wish is that I could really share with you the most awe-inspiring moments.  In Shamanistic and Shinto rites, chanting and rituals such as these are actually calling the Kami (spirits) to appear.  The performances and multiple offerings are for them: praising them, thanking them for a good harvest year, and wishing them well in hopes for another year of abundance.  And, well… this year was probably no different than the previous 873 years: the Kami seem to have made their presence known in several ways.

For one, there was a moment at dusk when, during the chanting and singing, the wind became extremely active.  The trees howled and swayed…the clouds suddenly darkened the dimming sky, as if dusk was in a hurry to arrive… then, as quickly as the wind blew in, and the sky darkened, it started to rain… but just as it started to rain, and the crowd was just considering getting out the umbrellas or run for cover, the rain transformed into crystals, and the snow fell on our cheeks.

The crowd, spontaneously all together made a kind of “ahhh” sound… and then.. just before we could be in too much awe of the snow: it stopped.

the wind died down.

the trees calmed.

the sky cleared.

the chanting stopped.

and a new performance began.

the chills ran up my spine.  and not because I was cold…

gathering in the cold for performances

the priests, seem like ghosts themselves...

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