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TOP  >  What is Shinto?  >  3-a. The Yearly Round of Observances:
  Minzoku Shinto (Folk Shinto)

A. The Yearly Round of Observances:

1)New Year's Festival
 

The Yearly Round of Observances starts with the New Year's Festival. In an urban society, people visit a Shinto shrine or a Buddhist temple during the first three days of a year as the first thing to do. In a rural society based on agriculture, however, each house executes a ceremony by themselves to invite the deity of a year, or the communal body does it on behalf of each household, and a family or the community share with the ancestral spirits the specially prepared meal and the rice wine.

 
Even in an urban society, people place a new amulet received at a tutelary shrine of the locality or a new Taima (a special amulet purified and distributed by the Grand Shrine of Ise) in an alter of one's own house. After that, a family drinks Toso (the special sake for a new year's ceremony) and enjoys the New Year's meal.


2)Bon Festival
 

Bon festival held in July or in August as an ancestral souls' day is said to be a Buddhist festival related to Chinese Urabon sutra. However, it is also considered to be a folk Shinto faith with following reasons: people visit grave yards in order to recall the souls of ancestors which had been once sent to the Pure Land, being free from all the agonies of this world; all the members of a family or a clan get together to enjoy the specially prepared meal for the occasion. From these points, Bon Festival is considered to be one form of the amalgamated folk faith which has been customarily performed in Japan for a long time. It is even clear when we consider a fact that Buddhism originally does not say the continuous existence of individual soul after death.
 

3)Other Festivals
 

There are many other festivals including those which are related to various kinds of professions, such as agricultural works, industrial works, or commercial activities. There are also many festivals to wish an individual happiness and prosperity avoiding any troubles and misfortunes, or those which have been influenced by Buddhism, Taoism, and Yin-Yang thought. There are seasonal festivals, too. On the last day of a year, the Japanese cleans a house and the surrounding area, and takes a bath to clean themselves, then eat Soba noodle to wait for a New Year. This is undoubtedly a custom based on Oharae (purification) that Shinto has been practiced since ancient times.

 

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3-b. Rites of Passages:
神社と神道

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