...well, this post was going to be up a lot sooner, but then Blogger decided to delete my mostly finished post. Entirely. THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR, BLOGGER. NOT ACCEPTABLE AT ALL. So, yeah, guh, this is me trying to reconstruct this post while packing and getting ready to head back to the States. Wheeee.
So last Tuesday was Susanoo Shrine's tsukinamisai plus the summer festival. Even though there was a lot more to do in terms of set up (there were about twice as many offerings as usual), there were a lot more people attending than usual, so I wound up running around like a headless chicken quite a bit less than usual.
Sekihara-san's husband is making a website for the shrine, and he wanted photographs of the festival, so I got drafted to take pictures, because I am "good at taking photos." Um. Well then.
All the attendees... There weren't enough chairs, so I was lurking in the back.
Everyone carrying the offerings to the inner altar...
This is what the offerings look like, by the way. The three trays on the right are for the mountain kami, who is enshrined in a separate building.
So because it was the summer festival, the norito was much longer than usual. Before the festival started, Nakano-san collected the names of everyone attending, and she read them off as part of the norito. There are few words I can use to describe how it felt to hear my name in there. My first reaction was that I really wanted to giggle, because my name sounds pretty friggin' ridiculous in among a bunch of Japanese names. (Actually, let's be honest; my name is pretty ridiculous even without Japanese names to compare it to.) My second reaction was, "WOW. WOW, THIS IS ACTUALLY REAL." I can't express how grateful I am to everyone at Susanoo Shrine for accepting me into the shrine community and putting me up with my strange questions and my stuttering and my folding papers the wrong way (I swear I have it right now!). Not only was attending the monthly festivals good for research, it was just generally a great experience. (You have no idea how calming it is to prepare offerings. Repetitive actions are a great destressor, let's be honest.)
Offering tamagushi! All the people in chairs got to offer tamagushi individually, and those of us who were standing prayed with the last person.
Offering tamagushi is not that hard, but a lot of people don't know how to do it properly.
Step 1: Take the tamagushi from the priest. Bow as you do so.
Step 2: Approach the altar.
Step 3: Turn the tamagushi clockwise 90 degrees. The stick should be pointing toward you and the leafy bit should be pointing toward the top.
Step 4: Grip the leafy bit with your right hand and then turn the tamagushi 180 degrees before placing it on the altar.
Step 5: Bow twice, clap twice, bow once. <-- this is the praying bit
Step 6: Take a small step backward and then bow (slightly!) once more before backing away from the altar.
Step 7: Bow to the priest and then sit.
...okay, maybe it's a bit more complicated than I originally thought...
That was the end of the main ceremony, so then we went to the shrine for the mountain kami to perform the ceremony there.
I was way in the back, so my pictures are not all that great.
Also, when I showed Sekihara-san the pictures I took, her first response was, "MY HUSBAND'S SHIRT IS GLOWING!" (It kind of is.)
And offering tamagushi again...
And that was the end of that!
So then everyone trooped inside...
Festivals usually involve hauling a lot of tables.
Next were the festivals for the kami enshrined in shrines in the shrine office.
By the way, that photograph over Nakano-san's head is from the Meiji era. This shrine is OLD.
...so that was the end of that. My camera died immediately after the festival, because it is a pro like that. I seriously think I need to get a new battery or something, because this is getting kind of ridiculous.
After the ceremony, we had naorai and I got to eat delicious bento and listen to cool stories, because apparently this is my month to eat delicious bento and listen to cool stories.
...also, apparently Nakano-san's daughter saw pictures of me in priest garb and declared me "cool." WHAAAAAAAT.
Also also, I saw a goshintai, which is the object that is actually enshrined as a symbol of the kami. You're not normally supposed to see it, but there's some construction going on at the shrine (I believe a fence is being repaired?) so Nakano-san had to take the goshintai out of the mountain kami's shrine and she showed it to me, because she wasn't entirely sure what was in the box. So, yeah, this year has been the year of me seeing all sorts of things I'm not normally supposed to see. (That sentence wound up sounding a lot sketchier than I intended it to.)
So, yeah, that was my last tsukinamisai at Susanoo Shrine. I'm going to miss everyone, and I'm going to miss heading over on the 17th to fill sake containers (Did you know that if you accidentally spill sake on your watchband, your watchband will smell like sake approximately forever?) and listen to really cool stories and wipe down trays.
The next day was my last penmanship class! I was actually kind of sad, 'cause only one other woman came...but then after class A WHOLE SLEW OF PEOPLE showed up, because apparently Nakano-san contacted everyone who had taken class with me and said, "Dana's leaving, so you better come if you want to say goodbye to her." Oh gosh, you guys, I love you all.
...also, I got a lot of (super thoughtful and sweet) presents and I was super embarrassed and stuttered a lot and may have kind of cried a little and GOSH. GOSH.
ANYWAY, ENOUGH TALKING ABOUT FEELINGS; HAVE SOME PICTURES OF MY LOUSY CALLIGRAPHY:
This is actually from the week before; I just forgot to take a picture before...
And this is from this week...
It's pretty embarrassing that I've been writing hiragana for 5 1/2 years now and this is how good my handwriting is. OUCH.
WAIT WAIT WAIT, is this ACTUALLY PRETTY OKAY CALLIGRAPHY? Yes, yes, it is. Nakano-san was in the other room while I was writing this and she came back and said, "WHOA, your corners just got weirdly good!"
...anyway, my last last for this post is that last Thursday was my last Japanese class. (I used "last" a whole lot in that sentence. HMM.) It wasn't as sad as it could have been, because I'm seeing some of my classmates again on Saturday (we're planning on going to the Toyota City Fireworks Festival).
...so that's all the news for this time. Next post will be about my trip to Misogi Shrine last Sunday. (Gosh, I am so far behind, and I am going to get farther behind, because I need to finish packing and cancel a bunch of stuff and ahhhhhh busy.)