Monday, November 30, 2015

Travel Photo: A Ritual Called Shimakankaa

men,worship,rites,stone lion, sake,food


It Only Happens Once a Year



One of the things, I love doing, is taking the cameras to an event like this.

There are little cultural events held on the sideroads of Okinawa that nobody knows about.

It took about a year of preparation and, some good luck, to get invited to attend, this year.

The rock, sitting on the pedestal, is an ancient stone lion or, shisa.

But, in the Sokei district of Ginoza Village, it is called an Ishigantu or, Ishiganto.

A brochure from the Ginoza Museum says, they sacrifice cows  during rites performed here.

There are three of these Ishigantu in the village. A fourth one was destroyed during WWII.

Thinking, I would get to see, three cattle sacrificed, last year, I asked about the event.

It takes place during the ninth month of the year, by the Chinese calendar.

Believe it or not, last year, the Chinese calendar, had a leap month and, I missed the event.

The lucky part, for me, was, Shinzato-san, the district official, remembered me.

He knew, I missed last year's rituals and, invited me to document it, this time around.

He's the man in the yellow shirt, eating from a bowl with chopsticks.

 At each of the three stone statues, prayers and offerings are made and alcohol is consumed.

Plus, everybody gets to eat some of the piping hot meat from the soup bowl. 

This scene, took place at statue number three and, was the conclusion of the ceremonies.

Little did I know, women aren't allowed to participate and, got the boot.

My translator, Mami Sakiyama, and a news gal, had to watch from a distance but, that was alright.

At the second statue, I got called over to sample some of the meat offered.

It didn't taste like chicken or beef. Maybe it was some other worldly food, I don't know.

After the ritual stuff, women were invited, to join the men in the community center.

And, everybody got to eat some of the special treat that was offered earlier.

They had a great big pot of the meal and lots of awamori (Okinawan sake) too.

Well, I don't drink when out shooting cameras and, had to leave before too long.

There was another mission, to be performed, down the road apiece in Kin Town.

The bowl of meat, soup and vegetables, they gave me, got sipped on slowly.

There was no way, I wanted anyone to think, I needed a second helping !

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