December 07, 2009

Why was she running?

Here running was s shrine maiden of Kasuga Grand Shrine wearing a beautiful crown of wisteria flowers. A shrine maiden is supposed to behave gracefully. Why was she running? Because it was the busiest day in Kasuga Grand Shrine. The luckiest day(大安) in the old fortune-telling calendar ,in which six different fortunes come in the order, fell on Sunday. So there were more ceremonial occasions than usual.

When we hold special ceremonies such as a wedding ceremony, a one- month- old baby’s blessing ceremony and so on, we still examine the fortune-telling calendar and choose the luckiest day which comes once in every six days.

Many calenders and pocket diaries tell us six days cycle in the fortune-telling calendar. There are no scientific proofs at all but this idea is deeply rooted in our DNA. Really Japan is a wonderland where the old and the new coexist side by side in harmony.
(This is an old calender for 2010 sold at a book store at the price of 300yen.)

Suppose you have a wedding ceremony. Will you choose the luckiest day(大安) or the worst day(仏滅) for the ceremony?


  1. It is remarkable and fascinating to me how Japan can be such an advanced society, on one hand, a society which has advanced thanks to science and scientific thinking (much of which was imported to Japan from other, Western, countries), and yet on the other hand also keep such superstitious beliefs. The old and the new coexist side by side in my country, Britain, as well, but what I see here is not just the old and the new, but the scientific and the non-scientific.

    Do they really "coexist side by side in harmony"? Isn't saying that simply a way
    to avoid facing the contradiction between these two? The contradiction is that, scientific thinking, "the new", has allowed people to live longer, and more healthy and productive lives, not only in Japan but aroun the world. Japanese now live longer than almost any other people on the planet. What has "the old" done?

    An Indian friend of mine told how in India, when you want to have a ceremony, you must first go to the priest to ask him to find the "lucky" day, and of course they cannot find one. Then you pay the priest some money and they "find" a lucky day for you like, the next day.

    The idea of "lucky" days is invented by priests to ensure their own future employment.

  2. こうみると巫女さんが走ってる姿は不思議に見えますね(^^♪

  3. to a08018
    By the way, do you believe the luckiest day or the worst day?

  4. to Marc
    when we use this expression "the old and the new", it means not only "the old and the new" but also the scientific and the non-scientific, the traditon and the new customs or somothing opposite. We are brought up not in the "Black and White culture" but in the gray culture. Between black and white there are many kinds of gray,the sutle gradations of gray from black to whiter. So we don't see any distinct boderlines. This is the way of things going on based on the history, Japanized forein culture or peaceful fusion of Shinto and Buddhism. This is not to avoid contradiction but to avoid unnecessary cofrontation or friction.
    When temples sell Buddhist names given to the deceased at the high price, I feel that temples invented such a custome to ensure their profit.


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