Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Autumn equinox

Everybody who has a blog about Japan is currently writing about the autumn equinox, which was yesterday. Here it is celebrated as a public holiday and is another time of the year when people clean and visit their graves. In our area it is also a time when the community gets together to pray for a good rice harvest (praying that the typhoons stay away.....). We have a tiny community center across the road from us and on this day one person from each household is supposed to go and take part in the festivities. Traditionally the men sat around and ate and drank while the woman rushed around cleaning, cooking and serving all the food before cleaning everything up while the men went up the hill to pray at the small shrine. Things have changed a bit now though and although the women are still responsible for the cleaning (oops... I had to work all day yesterday so couldn't help) the food is now supplied by the local restaurant and the trip up the mountain to the shrine consists of everyone sitting on their knees facing the general direction of the shrine and praying (most members of my community are too old to make it up the hill).
One thing that hasn't changed is the seating arrangements.... in Japan the people furthest from the kitchen are always the most important people (ie the oldest) and then the people get younger as you head towards the kitchen - of course all the men are before the women no matter what their age.....
Although the numbers participating in this ritual are decreasing each year as households die out, it is nice to see it continuing in a more modern form. I wonder when they will bring in the cleaning company too......


  1. hehe :)

    this sounds a bit like on our wedding day when we were meant to go to local shrine to pray for good fortunes during marriage or whatever but ended up standing in middle of road leading up to shrine steps and bowing a few times.

  2. Keiko8:00 PM