Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Twenty years of visiting Ise - Part 2

At the shrine office of Gegū, we applied to receive the Daidai Kagura ceremony. On the application, you write one person’s name to represent your group and the number of total attendance. Then you choose what kind of prayer you want. I chose the “gratitude sending to the gods”. Next time, I want to do it for “the security of the Japanese nation.”

This time, we came together with my own sister’s family. I sat down at the waiting lounge, thinking that this will be a good cultural education for our children. Maybe because it was early in the morning, there was no one else waiting. The waiting lounge was spacious, very clean and free drinks were prepared. The bathroom was very clean too. We waited for about 20 minutes and a priest came to lead us to the inner shrine.

After a brief prayer chanted by a priest, two kami-miko, shrine maiden, held a ceremony to offer shin-fuda (a charm that represents a God) and shin-sen (food offerings – dried bonito, squid and tangle). This was marvelous. One of the kami-miko brought the food offerings to the entrance of the oratory. The other kami-miko receives the offerings and places it to the altar. The kami-miko goes back and forth few times in front of the attendance and the two miko’s timing is so perfect to the details. When the kami-miko comes to the center of the oratory, she would once slightly bend her knees before she continues to walk toward the entrance. This feels like she is expressing greetings to the attendance and at the same time, giving a sign to the other maiden to match the timing of their movement. Throughout the ceremony, these two kami-miko impressed me the most. I had witnessed god spirits behind these maidens who are probably still under 20 years old. There were higher rank priests around them but the god spirits only resided around the two maidens. I sometimes see kami-miko’s of today, who are not so pure and having fun in their private lives. But these kami-miko’s at The Grand Shrine of Ise are keeping themselves very pure. I sense they do not have much of a private life. They are true virgins who god spirits reside.

This time, I learned one more thing. It was the prayer chanted by an upper rank priest before the Kagura, offering dance. I had never heard of this chant before. It was chanted very slowly in a soft gentle manner like talking a story. The unique vocalization emanated the gentle energy of The Grand Shrine of Ise.

If you would like to offer a prayer, the basic Okagura (15,000yen) is sufficient. It was very expensive for us, but receiving a special charm to bring home, and the whole ceremony with fresh local food offerings was totally worth it.

The received charm did not fit into my altar at home. So I added a wooden holder for the charm attached to the left side of the altar. Even if you don’t have an altar at home, this charm is very thick, so it will stand on its own. If you can, please offer sakaki leaves and water. The energy from the god spirits will then be able to reside. If you cannot use sakaki leaves, at least, offer a bowl of water and change it once in a while.

Ikashite-itadaite Arigato-gozaimasu

Thank you for letting us live


Anonymous said...

"Geku" is better?

- Mariko K - said...

Please read the right side column, "About the Grand Shrine of Ise."

- Mariko K - said...

I'm sorry the left side...