Matsuri: Festival and Rite in Japanese Life
[Table of Contents]

Festival and Sacred TransgressionI



I have distinct memories that as a child it was very difficult for me to become accustomed to festivals (matsuri[Glossary: matsuri]). Merely by taking one step outside my home, I was accosted by a boisterous world of excitement, the lively cries coming from the stalls of vendors along a road packed with an uninterrupted procession of people. After merely a glance, I would withdraw again to the dark confines of our living room. There, the only sound was that of the festive drum, to whose vigorous beat I would listen, entranced. On the other hand, and like everyone else, I delighted in the celebrations accompanying matsuri, and one of my greatest pleasures was to frolic with cousins and other young relatives who, dressed in their festival clothes, would come to our house to play.

As a result, when I became somewhat older and a bit more self-aware, I threw myself into the world of matsuri, and it was in fact a great adventure. In the summer of my tenth year, I acted as one of the children pulling a festival float, and I still have a clear recollection of winding through the streets of town with my neighborhood friends. As the procession detached itself from the narrow confines of the town streets and wound its way lazily through the lush verdure of countryside fields, we came to a precipitous torrent which had carved out a deep ravine.

The Gion[Glossary: gion] mikoshi[Glossary: mikoshi] with its bare white wood was borne by the vigorous youths in their happi coats of coarse cotton, and plunged straight into the swirling vortex of the stream. Whether jostled along by the young men or swept by the torrent, the matsuri[Glossary: matsuri] was carried downstream at considerable speed. Up to their necks in the deep pool, the young men occasionally sputtered and choked as their heads dipped below the surface of the water; I was too young yet even to swim, and as I watched them from the railing of the bridge I found myself holding my breath and losing my eyes as though I myself were being swallowed up by the clear, blue water that rushed through my mind.

In the evening, I accompanied the festival floats[Glossary: yamaboko] covered with their flickering paper candle lamps, and went with them as far as the place on he outskirts of town known locally as the "old well." It was the first time I had been to that place, but rather than pulling, I had been pulled. Within the unspeakable unease that I felt upon realizing I had actually come to this distant place so late at night, only the heroic rhythm of the festival drum and the brightly lit paper lamps of the floats gave me some measure of pluck.

The winter festival was also held at night. As a result, it was only after I had grown quite a bit older that I was permitted to watch the festival procession in the deep cold late at night. During my youth, my interest in festivals was largely directed toward the traveling circuses which began setting up their stalls and tents a full week before the actual festival began. The temporary resting place (otabisho)II prepared for the festival mikoshi was located at a place called Ohanabatake; at the large square there, a traveling circus set up its huge tent together with the stalls for several rather creepy "spectacle" shows.

From far away, the cold wind carried the garish sound of a small tin band playing the popular tune "The Beauty of Nature" (Utsukushiki tennen); lifted high and low, it made the winter solitude pierce even deeper into the body, stimulating children's hopes that the festival would begin even sooner. My female cousins came to visit at such times, and we would always talk about the stories of people who had been kidnapped by the circus: the story about the midget on the flying trapeze, the tale about this or that child that had nearly been kidnapped and made a member of the circus. That was the reason that children could not go see the circus, or so it was said....

But there was another factor making the festival a time of unease, namely the rowdiness of the drunks that would wander around. Yet, if it had been merely drunks, we could have labelled them as such and kept it in mind to stay away from them, just as we did with my father's drinking companions who often came to our house and never failed to quarrel when they had drunk too much. But what I could not comprehend was the fact that at the time of matsuri, some men, and on occasion even some women -- people who normally were among the most upright and proper of those known to me -- could pull out all the stops and engage in unrestrained uproar.

It was especially difficult for the fastidious mind of a child to bear the transformations that occurred even to the normally unapproachable, near-divine figure of the school master, or the young teacher who was, under normal conditions, the model of an intense educational ideal. On the occasion of a festival, these demigods would be transformed like a veritable Jeckyl and Hyde, descending to the state of wild and vulgar human beings. True, they comprised a small number of the total teachers present, and in fact I no doubt witnessed such conduct on but few occasions, but the impression burned on the mind of a child was clearly that the former idol had been dashed to the ground. I remember even feeling anger at the fact that the other adults standing around had reacted as though it were entirely a matter of course, laughing it up and giving their tacit approval to such outlandish behavior. In my child's way of thinking, a teacher was supposed to present a prim and solemn figure at all times. My childhood education had been like that, and I had accepted it at its face value. On occasion my patience grew thin and I would ask older people I knew why things were like that. But they usually just avoided the question with laughter, or if they answered at all, it was with a mere "You'll understand when you get older."

Why are such things permitted on the occasion of matsuri? Why is it that the gods just don't care about such thing? This question remained lurking in my young mind for a long while. To tell the truth, even as an adult today I don't always feel that I have yet reached a totally convincing answer.

Just a short time ago, it seemed that the movement marching under the brocade banner of "modernization" would sweep all before it, and the foolish excitement of matsuri was one of the victims of that movement. There was a tendency to add easy rationalization to anything appearing to be beyond the reach of rational understanding. And as a result, many aspects of matsuri ended up being transformed into cold, lifeless formalities. On the other hand, recent years have seen a number of new kinds of "foolish excitement" gain the popular imagination. But no less than before, it's difficult to assert that the significance of "going on a spree" has become clear in any more convincing form. Moreover, since the crazed celebrations which are transmitted through traditional festivals can be considered to some degree systematized expressions, they should represent a legitimate problem for consideration within the context of religious culture.

Keeping in mind this rather childish question - and even without any conviction that I will arrive at a fully convincing answer - I wish to use the remainder of this essay to present one possible interpretation of this matter.

1. Views of Sacred Transgression (seihan)

When Japanese matsuri are considered from the standpoint of the committed believer, namely the position that such festivals represent solemn divine rites, there are numerous areas which simply defy explanation. On the one hand are highly dignified rites of seclusion and purification, tedious rites in which one's emotions and responses are trained and focused through bodily actions and behavior of the most restrained and solemn kind. But on the other hand, there is also generally an expectation of a thorough liberation of mind and body, a destruction of the existing order. Festival days involve a kind of public license for the casting away of everyday restraints and for the kind of behavior which in normal common sense would be disdainfully dismissed as vulgar. And this attitude, we might note, is not something which came to be prevalent only since the Edo period with its heightening of human emotions. In the ninth books of the Man'yôshû we find the following "long poem" (chôka):

On Mount Tsukuba where eagles dwell
By the founts of Mohakitsu,
Maidens and men, in troops assembling,
Hold a kagai, vying in poetry;
I will seek company with others' wives,
Let others woo my own;
The gods that dominate this mountain
Have allowed such freedom since of old;
This day regard us not
With reproachful eyes,
Nor say a word of blame.III

When we think of a festival (shukusai) in the Western sense, we usually draw the association with a wild feast reminiscent of the original sense of "carnival." In the same way, the Japanese term "festival uproar" (matsuri sawagi) does not generally have very good connotations Even in a more general sense, the term "festival" (matsuri) is often used in a rather negative or complacent sense -- for example, in the criticism that the conference held in Mexico City for the International Year of the Woman ended in nothing more than a "festival," or the statement that people didn't want the Okinawa Marine Exposition to end in nothing more than "festival uproar." But such statements are utterly without meaning. In the context of religious matsuri as well, it would be very easy to consider such festivals theoretically and toss them out as the foolish excitement of ignorant folk, matters unrelated to the serious religious believer. But at the same time, merely to point out that matsuri are inevitably accompanied by extreme excess would be to abandon their consideration from the point of view of religious culture.

Japan's ancient myths are strongly related to matsuri, and among those myths we find that even the normally tabooed activity of incest is not only permitted, but actually occupies a very important role, a fact which has created considerable consternation among Shinto scholars of later generations. Not only in myth, but in actual primitive and ancient societies as well can be found numerous examples of what from modern common sense would be clearly viewed as incestuous behavior.

Since an early date anthropologists have given attention to the familial relations -- especially marriage -- found in human societies, and it is commonly known that the champion of structuralism, Levi-Strauss, has asserted that the basic characteristic of the change from the group society of animals to the dimension of human culture was the establishment of the incest taboo.1 For that reason alone he must handle historical exceptions to the incest taboo with great caution. According to Levi-Strauss, examples of clearly incestuous relations can be found not only in ancient Egypt, Peru, and Hawaii, but in Japan and Burma as well. But if one then asks whether such societies represented total freedom in matters of marriage relations, the answer is no. The reason for this lies in the fact that even in societies where incestuous relations exist, some of such possible relations are always acknowledged as "marriage," and some are not so acknowledged. Those not so acknowledged are either temporary ritual exceptions, or when permanent public practices, they are usually limited to the exclusive prerogative of certain privileged groups in the society. In other words, the practice of incestuous marriage was not merely exceptional when viewed from the outside, but it was exceptional even when viewed from within the societies in which it was practiced. Even in such societies, incest was consciously held as the most dangerous relationship approaching prohibition and taboo. What should be noted is the fact that, with the exception of the rather wide range of example from ancient Egypt, incestuous marriage in primitive and ancient societies was either a special privilege of royalty or nobles bearing the responsibility for maintaining cosmic order, or else it was a ritual marriage practice, limited to specific, non-everyday occasions of festivals. As result, it is important to keep in mind that merely because incestuous marriage appears unnatural from the exterior standpoint of comparative research, it does not at all mean that it is the normal marriage practice viewed from within the societies in question; even within such societies it was considered an unusual form of marriage relation, meaning that it is highly likely that incestuous marriage was viewed as a systematic prohibition which, however, was to be violated boldly in the context of specific circumstances and with special qualifications.

In the classics transmitting ancient Japanese culture, there are many examples of incestuous relations in the imperial family, and such examples are found not only in the records for the age of the gods[Glossary: kamiyo], but those for later historical periods as well. Scholars of the Edo period who revered classics like the Nihon shoki[Glossary: nihon_shoki], Kojiki[Glossary: kojiki] and Man'yôshû as divine revelations thus attempted to refute the criticism of Confucianists who labelled such incestuous examples the practice of brute animals; in the process, they cultivated a deep understanding of ancient Japanese culture. In particular, the seeds of interpretative research on ancient Japan sown by Motoori Norinaga[Glossary: motoori_norinaga] and Hirata Atsutane[Glossary: hirata_atsutane] found flower in the studies of the ancient period of Yamada Yoshio and Orikuchi Shinobu[Glossary: orikuchi_shinobu] and bore fruit in the researches of modern scholars of national literature such as Takasaki Masahide and such scholars of Shinto as Nishida Nagao (of Kokugakuin University). My own thought in this essay has been especially influenced by the rich suggestions found in Professor Nishida's essay "Shokuzai no bungaku" (The Literature of Redemption).2

With an approach derived more from historical theology than narrow Shinto history, Professor Nishida takes his departure from the results of researches in kokugaku (nativist studies) of the Orikuchi school. Taking up the motif of incest in examples ranging from the gods of myth to nobles in the Tale of Genji, he argues that such examples are expressions of a form of Shinto thought running throughout Japanese history from the ancient to medieval periods, and representing the concept of divine marriage, a concept within which is hidden the "original significance" of redemption by gods of salvation. Nishida analyzes a wealth of examples, and in the process he makes frequent metaphorical use of the Buddhist or Christian concepts of "atonement by the suffering of another" or "expiation"; in fact, he tends to be a bit too conscious theologically of both these religions, with the result that his work can be easily misunderstood, in exactly the same way as the Atsutane school is depreciated by those who point to the influence of Christianity which it exhibits. But this is a minor point, and Nishida's article should be more widely considered outside the field of Shinto studies. Through its use of later historical developments, it provides reverse corroboration regarding the possibilities for religious concepts of sin or evil inherent in both the ancient myth and ritual of Japan.

Here, we are given a hint regarding the issue I raised earlier. Namely, the incidents of incest we find scattered throughout the ancient period at least, were not merely violations of taboo, but were committed deliberately as part of a religious consciousness, a form of "sacred transgression." In the present case, however, I am focusing on examples of matsuri performed as well in modern times, with the result that I want to use the concept of "sacred transgression" in a bit wider sense than the somewhat more serious issue of incest. Essentially, when matsuri is thought of in the limited sense of a solemn ritual, one comes up against many aspects which defy explanation, occasions of overtly sacrilegious rioting and wanton destructiveness. It is for this reason that I took up these aspects in particular, beginning by borrowing the expression of the French sociologist Roger Caillois as a title.3 In his case, however, the entirety of festival is viewed as a "sacred transgression" or as the "sacred crime" (p. 135-180) , whereas I differ in viewing the sacred violation as merely one half of the two poles occurring in festivals. In that sense, my idea may be closer to Edmund Leach's concept of sacrilegious "masquerade" as the opposite of "formality" within a bipolar orientation toward singling out the sacred (Leach proposes these concepts in the context of an analysis of the structural relationship between the development of festivals and the temporal structure that alternates between the Durkheimian notions of sacred and profane).4

At any rate, for the last several years I have used the concepts of [sacred] "ritual" (saigi) and [profane] "festival" (shukusai) as polar elements characterized by mutually opposed principles of action, attempting to apply them as operational concepts for the analysis of matsuri. By allocating to these two categories the various aspects seen in the development of actual Japanese festivals, I have tried to evaluate the "synergistic" effect of the two within an overall consideration of the characteristics of actual festivals.5

Such analysis, however, has always remained within the frame of an analysis of the effect or function of the matsuri. What we must now consider is the simultaneous issue of the symbolic meaning which surely must accompany such binary phenomena. Put another way, we know that, at least in their current form, those matsuri which continue to exhibit dynamic vitality today are characterized by aspects coming equally from the two poles noted above; what we must now ask ourselves is the question: Aside from their functional effects on group maintenance, why are both these aspects necessary?

In response to that question, I want to consider the profane, or "carnival" side of matsuri -- a side which has tended to be disregarded in previous studies -- and examine that aspect within the context of the conception of "sacred transgression." Then, through an examination of its orientation to sacred transgression, I want to take up the cultural and social raison d'être of the matsuri as a whole.

For example, in my hometown of Chichibu there is a winter matsuri held at night, a festival which since long ago has been called the Myôken Sairei Although the Chichibu Jinja[Glossary: chichibu_jinja] enshrines the ancestral deity of the ancient Chichibu provincial magistrate (Chichibu kuni no miyatsuko) and the festival involved is a regular calendrical festival of that shrine, the proceedings have long been called the Myôken Sairei. This stems from the fact that from the medieval period the shrine deity was associated with the bodhisattva Myôken, and in the Edo period the shrine thus succeeded at drawing the faith of people living in the mountainous silkworm-producing regions which were then developing.

Formerly, the festival was held on the third day of the eleventh lunar month, but it is now held on the third of December by the Gregorian calendar. Since the Chichibu region was a concentrated producer of silk thread and cloth, the festival was the occasion for a large silk fair, and numerous merchants from as far away as Edo and even Osaka made it a practice to visit the festival for that purpose. It is said that the Kantô region's annual "year-end fair" (toshinoichi) would begin here in conjunction with the Myôken festival, thereafter gradually moving down the river Arakawa with the closing months of the year, stopping at various post towns along the highway Naka Sendô and finally closing with the toshi no ichi at Edo. As a result, there are many reminders of this heritage still visible in associations with names and customs throughout the area.

The significance of this festival's being held at night stems from the fact that the divine procession (shinkô[Glossary: shinko]) [of the shrine deity's mikoshi] which moves from the main shrine to the temporary shrine (here called the oyama) at Ohanabatake only leaves the main shrine after nightfall. At present, the official public rituals (reitaisai[Glossary: taisai]) for the festival are held at the shrine during the morning hours of December 3. These ceremonies are attended by the representative (kenpeishi[Glossary: kenpeishi]) sent from the Association of Shinto Shrines (Jinja Honchô), and they also involve the official participation of powerful figures from within and without the local area.

On the other hand, the night festival itself falls into the category of a "special divine service" (tokushu shinji[Glossary: tokushu_shinji]) of the local area, and thus might be considered, so to speak, as merely the nocturnal "private" counterpart to the diurnal "public" rite. But for the people living in the local area, it is the night festival that represents the genuine matsuri, and it is also most interesting that at the mythical level, the meaning of this festival continues to be influenced by the former faith in Myôken.

The Chichibu Myôken is pictured as a goddess standing on the back of a turtle. It is believed that on this night of the year the goddess exchanges sacred vows with the male deity of the mountain Bukôsan which rises high behind the temporary shrine. In the ritual site of the temporary shrine (oyama) is a large turtle carved from stone, and when the goddess stands on the back of this turtle (a ritual wand [gohei[Glossary: heisoku]] is erected on the turtle's back as a representation of this), the male deity descends from Mount Bukô and heads for the site. An interesting folk belief has it that the goddess Myôken is the mistress of the male deity of Mount Bukô, and the sacred procession held on the night of the festival represents the annual visit paid by the deity to his divine mistress. The legal wife of the male god is the deity O-Suwasama worshiped in the auxiliary shrines (sessha) found outside the main shrine's precincts along the road taken by the divine procession. As a result, custom has it that when the divine procession passes near the Suwa Shrine[Glossary: suwa] on its way to the temporary shrine, all sound-making instruments must be silenced. It was formerly a custom for the six festival floats leading the procession to stop for a while near the shrine, and for the floats' dancers also to stop dancing and rest. At present, however, whether unconsciously or out of unconcern, some of the floats pass on by without stopping at all. In records dating since before the Meiji period (1868-1912), we find indications that before the festival, the priest of the Myôkengû (present-day Chichibu Jinja) would perform a ritual called O-Suwa watari in which he would offer worship to the Suwa Shrine, thus receiving a kind of advance permission or acknowledgement regarding the coming festival. As a result, the tradition that hints of a sexual link between these three deities cannot be understood merely as a folk explanation or joking tale.6

When I was first told this story as a pubescent youth, I was highly embarrassed. Another thing I was surprised to hear was that up until the Taishô period (1912-1926), young men and women had actually had clandestine meetings in the dark around the temporary shrine site on the night of the festival. Friends of my father said they had actually witnessed such things during their childhood. If this were the real "sacred vow" which was exchanged under that winter sky it would be no trifling matter.

Courting among the young may already be removed from the world of faith, but the power of divine marriage continues without change to attract people's interest. Just as the ritual called saijôsai is ending at the temporary shrine site, everyone present heads for the large sacred sakaki[Glossary: sakaki] tree with its attached streamers (shide[Glossary: shide]) and tries to get even a small branch of the tree before the others can, thus throwing the ritual site into pandemonium. This festival, which celebrates the relaxation felt following the completion of the fall silkworm production, as well assures the safe production of silk worms during the coming year, and these people are aware of that fact. They take home a small branch of the sakaki and enshrine it on their family god shelf (kamidana[Glossary: kamidana]), then use it the next year for collecting silkworms from their egg papers. But among these crowds fighting for branches of the sacred tree, only a minority are silkworm farmers. Most are city-raised youngsters and children. Even some photographers among them use their locations to advantage, assuring themselves the first chance to grab a branch, then carrying it proudly in their chest pocket. Each time I came to the festival and watched this spectacle, I came to feel more and more that the people were not contesting for sakaki branches on the basis of their religious longing, but rather that they were fighting with that fighting itself as their aim. It should be noted that the excitement of the crowds who come to the night festival reaches full steam around the time of the saijôsai ceremonies. In order to arrive at the top of the small hill where the temporary shrine is located, the six festival floats which lead the sacred procession must surmount the steep incline called Dangozaka. These floats -- almost indecently gorgeous for such a small town -- appear like a nightless city, illuminated with large numbers of Japanese lanterns. Encouraged by thundering waves of rhythm from the beat of big drums and the cries of the pulling youths, the floats are inched up the slope, and the spectacle drives the tens of thousands in the crowd wild. About the time the six floats arrive safely and align themselves before the temporary shrine, the area around the shrine, already surrounded by the booths of "spectacle shows" and fast-food stalls, is now inundated by the mass of spectators, and the flames from numerous warming bonfires lit here and there rise heavenward. Against the deep rhythm of thousands of trampling feet are heard the discordant music and hucksters' calls from the loudspeakers of numerous stalls, and these sounds, together with the raucous cacophony from the lion dance (shishimai) form a quarreling symphony that savages the ears. In one corner alone, the rituals of the temporary shrine proceed quietly, contained within an enclosure of Japanese lanterns, each one representing its respective quarter of the town. But the crowds surge in even here, and no attempts to control them can prevent their invasion of the sacred precincts, with the result that the rites themselves threaten to be interrupted. Drunken men take no concern for the divine services, and even try to offer libations of rice wine to the priests present.

Almost as though throwing their hands up in total defeat to the crowd's pressure, the priests hastily bring the rites to a close. As the service ends, the long-awaited fireworks are set off from the foot of the nearby mountain. The rockets explode one after the other, overwhelming all other sight and sound. Packed into every possible open space, be it road or field, the crowds of people surely must be savoring a sensation that in this lavish expenditure of light and noise the atrophy of winter has been smashed to bits. A last great "boom" and its accompanying circle of light fade to the black of the wide night sky, signalling that the ceremonies for the night festival are at their end. The sacred procession, however, must begin its trek back to the main shrine, and it is late night or early dawn before the last of the floats reach their respective quarters in the town.

2. Furukawa Yancha

The condition of carnival chaos based on the crowd is by no means something limited to a small number of especially large festivals. In most popularly celebrated festivals, it is a certainty that this aspect will appear at some point or place. On the contrary, when one says "festival" (matsuri), the image of a kind of disordered craziness is in general the more common perception. Festivals involve an extravagant expenditure of dazzling sound, color and energy. People anticipate becoming crazily intoxicated on the festival itself. Even limited to my own narrow experience, for example with Kyoto's Gion Festival or Tokyo's Kanda Festival[Glossary: kanda_matsuri], the former since the medieval period and the latter since the early modern period have exerted great influence on other festivals throughout Japan. In the case of either of these great metropolitan festivals, the real attraction was their luxurious festival space represented by the liberated atmosphere of the "vigil shrine" (yoimiya; in the case of Gion, called the yoiyama) and the ranks of gaudy festival floats[Glossary: yamaboko]. At present, both festivals have lost their structure as matsuri and their traditional appearance has become somewhat attenuated, but even so, their power to motivate the masses is still strong, and may even surpass that of earlier times.7 The question of why the floats move and the mikoshi proceeds isn't even raised. There is simply something about the dazzling Kyoto picture scrolls[Glossary: emaki] coupled to the exquisite Gion musical accompaniment that is enchanting; and if the mikoshi undulates with immoderate braggadocio before the young girls from old-town Tokyo who have been enticed by the pleasurable sensation of the Kanda rhythm, it means that once again this summer, something has been accomplished. From Fukagawa's Tomioka Hachiman[Glossary: tomioka_hachiman][Glossary: hachiman] to Asakusa's Sanja Shrines[Glossary: sanja_matsuri] and the Torigoe Shrine, in every summer festival of those shrines in old-town areas, the "young gallants" from each district proudly bear the mikoshi of their respective home areas in exhibitionist contests of their vigor.

The Sumiyoshi Festival[Glossary: sumiyoshi_matsuri] of Tsukudajima was established by fishermen of the Osaka area who moved to Edo during the construction of the castle town. In this festival, competitions between gigantic lion dancers (shishi[Glossary: shishi]) and thronging processions of mikoshi from each town ward were held with great to do, but what was surprising was the fact that in front of the houses where the mikoshi passed, full kegs of water would be used to drench the mikoshi and its bearers as it passed by. It was also customary for the shrine's own mikoshi (miya mikoshi) to enter the ocean, but this custom has now been discontinued due to the pollution of the ocean water. But this kind of rhythmic intercourse between the movement of the mikoshi and the unrestrained splashing of water calls forth an invigorating excitement, a celebration lasting until the deep of night. In particular, the rough shoving which occurred when the miya mikoshi was taken from ward to ward tended to involve the packed throngs of bystanders as well, producing a wild contact of countless bodies. Among the family members of homes lining the route and cheering the procession on, some were so taken by the excitement that they even brought out photographs of departed loved ones from their Buddhist altar (butsudan) in order to allow the loved one to view the festivities.

Kawagoe used to be called the "Little Edo of the Kantô" and it still retains some of its old atmosphere. The Hikawa Festival of the old city there is said to have been started in 1648 by the dominal lord Matsudaira Nobutsuna, lord of Izu, in imitation of the shogun's festivals in Edo (called the tenka matsuri, these included the Kanda Festival and the Sannô Festival[Glossary: sanno_matsuri]).8 Even now, this festival continues to sentimentally exhibit its doll floats (ningyô dashi[Glossary: dashi]), although such things have been long lost to Tokyo.

Particularly noteworthy in this festival is the customary exhibition of forms of dance transmitted in local villages, such as lion dancing on floats (yatai jishi) and dancing to musical accompaniment. As part of the dances, it is customary for the dancers from each town ward to ride on their respective ward's float and engage each other in dancing competitions. The evening preceding the festival is an observance called the "introduction" (kaoawase or hikkawase) of the floats, in which the young men's groups alone pull the hawsers of their floats through the streets, colliding powerfully with other floats at each intersection, the rotating structures of the floats being shoved roughly into each other, and each group trying to outdo the other in music and dance. Since the forms of music and dance of each float are slightly different, it is considered a failure if one group is drawn off the beat of their own music by that of another, thus disrupting their own dance. Dancers appear dressed in masks including the lion (shishi), the "fat woman" (okame), the "clown with crooked mouth" (hyottoko), and the "white fox" (byakko), and dance madly while holding for balance to the float's front support pillars. Below, the young men pulling the float take turns at carrying paper lanterns emblazoned with the name of their home ward, jostling with the members of other groups as they raise their voices in an attempt to out-cheer their rivals. On occasion, three or four floats collide, and given the mobs of spectators filling the intersections, a state of seething pandemonium results.

During the main festival on the following day, the mikoshi makes its procession from the shrine, but from morning on, the ward floats as well are involved in parades around their respective domains. Come evening, they wend their way to the main streets where, 'till middle of night they engage in a hikkawase that makes child's play of the previous day's activities.

But as far as the classic rite of wild release engaged in by young men late into night, I have yet to come across anything that surpasses the okoshi daiko of the Hida Furukawa Festival. Furukawa is located in a somewhat open basin area about twenty kilometers north of Takayama, the town famous to tourists. From the Miyatôge Pass - the mountain divide on the old Hida Road - the river Miyagawa flows through the city of Takayama and enters the town of Furukawa, where it joins the river Arakigawa, thus becoming even more scenic. The present town of Furukawa was formed in 1956 from three adjoining villages, and has a current population of around 15,000, but it is the 8,000 residents of twelve old town wards (chô) who are the primary sponsors of the festival. During the sengoku period (ca. 1467-1568), Furukawa was known as home to one of the supporting castles of the daimyô of the Kanamori family who controlled Takayama. Since the early modern period (1600-1868) it maintained its character as one of those small, tranquil towns which developed along the road which opened from Takayama to Toyama. Although small, the town has distinct ward divisions laid out in checkerboard fashion, wards one, two, and three each being divided in the same manner as Takayama into upper, middle, and lower subdivisions. Along both sides of the clean streets run narrow canals full of water, and most of the houses aligned on the street display the rusty red-colored latticework (bengara kôshi) characteristic of the Hida style of architecture. The entire town displays the confident sense of being a polished example of the Hida cultural topography, pure and simple. One detects a clean-cut appearance, an appearance long since lost by modern cities buried in vulgar concrete. Not yet besoiled by tourists, the town breathes a hint of life close to the soil, yet not at all in the sense of a mere backwater town.

The Furukawa Festival is held on April 19-20, just four days after the end of the superb Sannô Festival[Glossary: sanno_matsuri] held at Takayama's Hie Shrine. This is just around the time the cherry blossoms begin blooming after the village snows melt in the late Hida spring. The village ujigami[Glossary: ujigami] is the Ketawakamiya Jinja[Glossary: keta_jinja] located on a small hill outside the town. The main activity of the festival involves the movement of the deity from the main shrine to the temporary shrine in the town's center, and from there the sacred procession of the deity winds throughout the reaches of the town. In celebration, the shrine parishioners from the wards bring out ten floats (one of which is too old to pull, and so is used as merely a platform for decorations) and enter them in the parade. The shape of the floats is exactly the same as those seen in the spring and fall Takayama Festivals, delicate and refined examples of the utmost in Hida craftsmanship, but most are relatively new, and some are even decorated more gorgeously with each passing year. Insofar as the divine procession wends its way through the town, and is accompanied by these splendid floats, it is entirely the equivalent of the Takayama festival.

What the Furukawa Festival has which the Takayama Festival lacks is the young men's event called the "drum of rising" (okoshi daiko). The first documentary appearance of this event is seen in the festival "regulations" (teishiki) for 1831, and in 1878 it was renamed the "drum of awakening" (mezamashi taiko), but the former name was reinstituted in 1941. The day of the festival as well has changed numerous times: until 1886 it was held in the fall, then it was changed to spring in 1887, and from 1889 its date was fixed at the present April 19-20. The evening of the nineteenth is called the "rehearsal festival" (shigakusai), while the day of the twentieth is called the "main festival" (hongakusai). The okoshi daiko involves a procession primarily through those wards of the town having responsibility for the various festival floats, and it was originally held on the day of hongaku, beginning before dawn and continuing until just before the divine parade left the shrine at dusk. But in 1952, and due to considerations of tourism, it was changed so that it began around ten o'clock on the evening of the shigakusai, just after the completion of the procession of floats, and continued until two in the morning of hongaku.9 Here, I want to describe the natural problem of the change in the structure of the festival observances; in this case, the essence which continued to be transmitted in the face of that change was very significant.

The okoshi daiko is a great drum about a meter in diameter and set on a wooden support structure about a meter high; the drum and its support are firmly mounted in the center of a sturdy rectangular platform with dimensions of about four by eight meters. This platform is then borne by about one hundred semi-naked young men wearing nothing more than white drawers, bleached cotton belly bands, and white headbands. At present, wheels have been attached to the platform to lighten the load over the long roads outside the centrally important areas of the festival. On the platform, eight men stand with legs spread for balance, bearing paper lanterns with bowed handles, and they bend their bodies up and down in rhythm to the drum beat, thus giving direction to the procession. Astride the great drum, two men sit back to back, each holding a single drumstick with both hands, each man alternately striking slow beats on the drum with his full force. The drum beats only come at intervals of one every few seconds, but they are powerful enough to cause the window glass of houses along the road to reverberate with their roar. All around the towering drum, about two-hundred other semi-nude men crowd around and raise strong shouts in accompaniment. The platform moves slowly along the narrow streets while being carried forward and back over the sea of three-hundred scantily clad men. What is more, this procession is then attacked over and again by fiercely energetic groups bearing what are called tsuke daiko.

Small drums are fixed to the middle of logs about four meters in length, and groups of ten or so young men from the ward bear the logs and drums, attempting to strike the great drum's supporting tower by breaking through the hundred or so men forming the rear escort to the drum platform. Their aim is to cause their log to directly strike the great drum's supporting framework. The various groups of tsuke daiko bearers wait at each street corner, building bonfires and drinking rice wine, raising their voices in great shouts and singing festival songs native to the Furukawa region. They set the supporting posts for their tsuke daiko on the ground and perform various stunts on the log, thus awaiting the arrival of the great tower drum on its platform. One song begins with the words "What a congratulatory occasion, oh Young Pine; your branches have swelled and your leaves are thick." The second verse continues, "The Furukawa Festival famous in sound - the valiant striking of the drum of arising." Although the season is spring, the last snows have only just melted away. Night is still bitterly cold, so the young men participating in the okoshi daiko and tsuke daiko have been drinking festive wine continuously from noon in order to stay warm. As a result, a tremendous amount of rice wine fills the festival area where the okoshi daiko starts out. After the close of the preliminary services of the evening, the houses grow quiet for a short while, after which the semi-naked men emerge, in such high spirits and strength that one is led to wonder where they have all been hiding till now. But when the observer looks closely, he notices that among the faces are some who just a moment ago were dressed in formal crested kimono, and with great nobility directed the progress of the floats through the town. These men have now been transformed into energetic youths. One overhears frequent stories from youths about being unable to settle down to sleep once the "drum of rising" strikes up its beat, with the result that they feel impelled to sneak away from their homes to secretly join in the celebration.

For about an hour before the start, more than 10,000 spectators have been gathering with the participating youths' groups in the square at the site of the old town office, where the towering drum is being prepared. Standing around bonfires here and there, they raise their voices in celebratory songs and shouts, unable to control their excitement. The fervor dies down for a moment before departure as a divine service is performed at a small altar erected for this purpose on the platform. The ritual prayer invokes the gods' protection that the celebration may be observed gloriously and safely, and following these words, the various official representatives offer tamagushi in accordance with formal custom. But already the musical accompaniment and chanting voices are warming up to their rhythmical beat. When the overall director of the rite, called the sôji, takes up his position on top of the platform, a great cheer goes up from the crowd. Although somewhat nervous in his important role, the sôji gives a rousing greeting to all assembled, but almost before he can finish, the energy which has been thus far suppressed by the crowd erupts explosively, and the okoshi daiko is on its way.

Surrounded fore and aft by its escorting party, the platformed drum erupts with its powerful "boom," and begins moving slowly on the shoulders of the naked men. The mass of surrounding people comes to life and begins to sway like a great wave. As the platform leaves the clearing of the square and enters the narrow town streets, the rooftops and second floor windows of houses along the way are packed with onlookers, and already groups of young men bearing tsuke daiko are pressing against the escorts guarding the rear of the platform, resulting in a fierce scuffle among the naked men on the road.

Leading the way before the drum platform procession, a group of several hundred red lanterns are borne by children and women, and from the rear of the platform, the crowds follow like a black wave. At the vigorous throbbing of the "rising drum," the shouts of the tsuke daiko, and the uproar of the crowds packing the streets, the little town -- normally fast asleep at this hour -- seems rather to have thrown away its everyday restraint and modesty. True to their mountain country upbringing, the people of Furukawa are persevering and gentle. But on this night alone, their personality changes to its rough side. This attitude is called "Furukawa yancha." The expression appears to be used all through the Hida area, but according to the local people here, it seems to indicate behavior involving the insistence on one's desires in spite of their unreasonableness. Some consider the tsuke daiko to be a perversion of the festival, and, according to the local historian Ôno Masao, restrictions on the practice can be found in numerous historical documents. According to the Go shinji yatai gishiki (Ceremonial Precedents for Divine Services and Floats), restrictions were placed on the tsuke daiko in 1855; again in 1858, it was decreed that those groups having charge over actual floats could bring out a single drum. In 1848, tsuke daiko were prohibited once again, but the very next year their name was merely changed to suke daiko ("helping drum"), and they appeared by force once again. In the Reisai[Glossary: reisai] kisoku of 1901, the tsuke daiko were officially permitted, and it also appears that it was from around this time that great drum began to be mounted on its towering support.10

At any rate, the explosion of this sort of "Furukawa yancha" must have been an unsettling experience for those who were convinced of the docility of the local people. In the Meiji period it seems to have been the case that the target of this explosive force was the police authorities. Records exist of a case in 1906 in which rocks were thrown at the local police office, but it was an incident in 1929 that lives on today as a proud legend. That incident involved an actual attack on the police station. The national police at that time kept an oppressive rein on the area without consideration of local conditions, and it seems that the people rebelled against that pressure, their opposition exploding through the medium of the okoshi daiko. When asking locals about the reasons for the attack, one receives a variety of anecdotal replies, but among them an impressionistic eyewitness account goes as follows:

At the time of the previous year's Bon dance[Glossary: bon_odori], a number of men became carried away by the atmosphere and participated in the dancing, dressed in women's clothing. The two police officers who were monitoring the occasion caught the men and started to lead them away. The watching crowd was incensed at the actions of the police officers and knocked them into a nearby ditch.
An accumulation of this kind of incident led to a persistent conflict between the locals and the police; particularly on the occasion of the festival, when sensitivities were especially acute with regard to outsiders, these feelings erupted from a trivial incident. As the upshot of the affair, about two-hundred youths were arrested together, and of these, about one-hundred fifty were detained in the main hall of a temple (Honkôji) near the police station. Because of this, the festival could not be continued, and a riot ensued. Finally, the locally elected representative to the national assembly had to intervene as a mediator. With the exception of several who were viewed as the ringleaders of the outbreak, the detained youths were "provisionally" bailed out, and the festival was thus allowed to continue. Later, however, there was a severe inquest into the incident since it was perceived that the national authority was at stake.

Whatever the true circumstances of the incident, it served to focus interest on the "yancha" of the Furukawa Festival. The effervescent nature of the okoshi daiko seems to have been increasingly emphasized from the Meiji period on, so that now it is portrayed as a representative rite of the Furukawa Festival, and even advertised proudly on posters as a "naked festival" in an effort to attract tourists. Not just the okoshi daiko, but even the other festival ceremonies as well, while superficially appearing to be performed with tact and refinement, are in fact the subject of strict restraints, the slightest of which if broken would result in a situation of chaos. As a result, the superficial appearance merely serves to hide a situation of unremitting tension. For example, in the procession of floats which are pulled one after the other, the floats are to follow without fail the directions of the group chosen as float leader that year (yatai shuji gumi, also called nenban gyôji gumi). In order to ensure the submission of the other floats to the float leader's directions, a meeting of representatives from all the float organizations is held on April 18, and a highly formal ceremony is observed in which the representatives vow to submit to the authority of the float leader. The details of this agreement are composed in a written document called the "Annual Festival Regulations" (reisai kisokusho), and the affixing of group representatives' seals to the document forms an important festival ceremony in itself.

Viewed from the negative side, the fact of this solemn ceremony indicates the intense labors undertaken by festival organizers to prevent trouble from erupting. In 1879, a revision to the Annual Festival Regulations instituted the practice of setting the order of floats in the procession through a process of drawing sacred lots[Glossary: mikuji]. The traditional custom previous to that revision, however, was for the floats to gather in front of the temporary shrine on the dawn of the main festival day (hongakusai), and while the leadership position in the procession was customarily given to a certain float called the "Sanbansô-dai" (no longer extant), the first float to arrive after the Sanbansô-dai was allowed to be the float leader the following year. The fierce competition involved in the attempt to take the leadership position in the procession can be ascertained from the festival entries for 1870 in the Hida gofûdoki.11 Namely, other than the leading Sanbansôdai and the ceremonial leader's float (shuji yatai) which took up the end of the procession, the order of the floats was decided on a "first come" basis. This custom seems to have given rise as well to the practice of competing to be the first to leave the procession at the time the procession disbanded and each float returned to its town ward (called the hikiwakare). At least as far back as 1845, the Annual Festival Regulations to which float representatives affixed their seals contains repeated strict injunctions against this kind of competition to be first. In point of fact, reports of festivals even up until recent years have pointed out the strictness in which the order of floats in the procession was maintained; if one float pressed too closely on the float ahead -- not to mention what should happen if it attempted to pass the other -- a quarrel could ensue. If the leader (shujigumi) was unable to successfully mediate the dispute, the procession might bog down until the following day when a resolution was finally reached. Even at present, those men in charge of the leading float lose great amounts of sleep from the time of their selection at the ujigami shrine on March 23 (until recently, it was held on April 3) until the end of the festival. During this period their nerves are worn thin in efforts to assure that they fulfill their leadership role without mishap. If they fail to foresee every possible contingency, not only will they fail to receive the cooperation of the other float groups, but serious trouble may result. The okoshi daiko rites which had been suspended during World War II were restored in 1949 and at that time the leadership responsibilities for the okoshi daiko and float procession were divided. Previously, however, a single group had been responsible for the leadership of both ceremonies, and the physical and mental load involved must have been immense.

Another important ceremony -- the sacred procession of the mikoshi -- is called the hikimodoshi no matsuri by the local people. Until the great depression in the early years of Shôwa, each time the sacred procession would pass the homes of those wealthy families who were considered town leaders, the entire body of participants in the procession would be invited back and served food and drink. Since the procession would be ignored while the participants drank and partied, it no doubt moved only with great difficulty. In those days, the ranking of "family status" (kakushiki) was a strictly observed custom in the Hida area. In Furukawa as well, those families called "patrons" or "great patrons" (dannashû or daidannashû) were owners of large amounts of land and made their family occupation the production of rice wine, with the result that they had tremendous wealth and powerful say in the town government. The expenses for the festival were also borne almost entirely by this wealthy group of families, from the construction of floats to the labor expenses for those involved in the festival. The hikimodoshi no matsuri involved the general feasting of the participants in the mikoshi procession by the "patrons," thus providing an occasion for them to drink on an egalitarian level (locally termed taitai) with lowly shop renters or tenant farmers with whom they otherwise had few chances of contact. Even at ordinary homes, great plates of food -- primarily mountain vegetables -- would be prepared with wine for the festival participants in a custom called moridashi. As the floats wended their way around the city, an escort dressed in formal kimono (kamishimo) and wearing a sedge hat drawn down at the sides (ichimonji-gasa - would "call back" (yobimodoshite) the participants to enjoy the feast prepared for them. Since the escort dressed in the formal garb was a member of the town's governing body (otonashû), even if the festival participants were totally unknown to the home concerned, they would be invited to enter the family's drawing room and enjoy the food. At present the custom of hikimodoshi -- which formerly brought the mikoshi and float procession of a virtual halt -- has almost disappeared. One can observe, however, a custom called ie no matsuri in which individual families invite guests to their homes on the night of the completion of the "main festival" (hongakusai) ceremonies.

On the day after the hongakusai the final rites of atofuki or yamayuki were observed. During the morning, the mikoshi was returned to the main shrine from the temporary festival shrine, while the float groups and individual homes engaged in cleaning up from the festivities. Then, the townsmen would make a pilgrimage to the shrine, and there enjoy an outdoor meal prepared by deep-frying the remaining festival foods. At present, this custom has become an occasion for relaxed "flower viewing" with friends and relatives since the cherry blossoms from the park on the neighboring hill are just beginning to bloom at that time.

3. The Orientation toward Sacred Transgression in "Festival"

Reconsidering the Furukawa "yancha" festival, I feel a bit of uncertainty about calling it an example of "sacred transgression," since some may feel that characterization to be somewhat of an exaggeration. At the same time, when viewed from the standpoint of the daily conceptions of those who are actual participants in this festival, it is certain at very least that they are aware of the excessive nature of their behavior. If not, there would be no grounds for their use of the self-incriminating term "Furukawa yancha." And yet, there is a problem; namely, their verbal expressions of "self-recrimination" seem to be denied by facial expressions indicating self-satisfaction and pride. Sure, arguments may break out; certainly, personal injuries may result, but since this a festival such things are all pronounced "good," and one even senses a subtle air of expectation for such incidents. One even hears complaints that festivals have of late grown "too tame." If we observers express surprise at the wildness of the festival, the standard response is that "it wasn't like this in olden times." But whether it was or not, one can confirm at very least the fact that the local people share an expectation of this non-everyday disruption of everyday order. Further, since this is a festival, they say that one must bear absolutely no lingering grudges, no matter how serious the trouble involved may be.

The question of how such savage behavior can be served up on an academic plate is by no means a simple issue. And to ignore it because of its savage nature would be an even greater disgrace to the academic calling. Further, to call it a "degradation" of the meaning of festival, or the result of popularization, would be to reject the very role of academia in searching for the raw meanings hidden within culture.

Since I have raised the problem here, I feel it necessary to put a bit more flesh on its bones, to give it a bit more shape before setting it on the chopping block of academic analysis. As a result, while keeping in mind the examples noted above, I want to attempt a conceptual description of the features of "sacred transgression" seen in festivals.

First, as for the time frame in which sacred transgression tends to occur, let us say that it should be located more at evening, or all night, than during the daylight hours. The festival examples I have raised to this point virtually all involve formal ceremonial rites held with utmost dignity and respect during the day, but the rites I wish to pay special attention to here are for the most part those of the yoimiya falling on the previous night (zen'yasai), or else those which burst out on the evening or deep into the night following the daytime rites. The Flower Festival (Hana Matsuri[Glossary: hana_matsuri]) held around the time of the winter solstice in the mountain villages of the Oku Mikawa area, for example in the community of Furuko (Aichi Prefecture, Kitashidara-gun, Higashisakae-chô), involves a lengthy ceremony of dance which continues non-stop for three days and two nights. Following this, a devils' dance (onimai) and "kettle dance" yukagura[Glossary: kagura] are performed around kettles decorated as flower containers, and these dances continue from midnight until dawn, thus producing an effervescent situation that draws spectators into a wild frenzy. The farming villages of Yamagata Prefecture, for example the old Kurokawa Village,12 are isolated by winter snows. The sacred Noh dances[Glossary: shinji_no] held for the Ôgisai at the local Kasuga Shrine[Glossary: kasuga], are performed throughout the night at the home of the man occupying the role of that year's rotating priest (tônin[Glossary: tonin]) for the local shrine organization (miyaza[Glossary: miyaza]), with his home representing the temporary dwelling of the god; these dances continue all night and are thus linked to those dances performed at the shrine the following day. In this example, an all-night frenzy is not involved, and Kurokawa Noh can on the whole be called a restrained night festival, but when one considers the very fact that the dances are performed all night long, it must be considered an unusual situation. Within modern civilizations, the light of day penetrates even to deep night, and all-night work has become a normal practice, but it goes without saying that originally, night was a time ruled by darkness, a time of silence and rest. At the very least, night in the ancient period was viewed as a world of visions, a time in which the order of day dissolved into darkness and various ancestral and other spirits freely traveled to and from the land of shade. The very act of humans awakening from that night and becoming active was a kind of offense against order, and such activities were thus permitted only during sacred festivals which were aimed at concourse with the divine spirits. In that sense as well, the tendency toward "sacred transgression" was almost impossible to conceive of during the day, when it was so clearly an offense against order, but within the phase of night, the restrictions placed on daytime order could be more easily superceded and such tendencies expressed openly.

Accordingly, human behavior which appeared at night tended toward a chaos differing immeasurably from that principled conduct of the day governed by the light of reason. The act of drinking and feasting to excess had the effect of breaking down the everyday rhythm, drunkenness and excessive behavior leading to quarrels and debauchery, while foul language and vulgar stories became the seed of raucous laughter. All of these elements thus resulted in a heady atmosphere of disorderly uproar. In the devil's dance of the Flower Festival, numerous "devils" appear brandishing papier-mâché axes, and it is customary for the young men who dance wildly around them to direct various insults and curses at the devils. At that point, there is no longer any distinction between dancers and spectators. All become a single body leaping around in the dance, raising their voices loudly in harmony to the rhythm of flute and drum and shouting out the "Tehoee - tehho!" of the dance's accompaniment. Here alone, the frosty chill of the winter night is dispelled.

The monotonous rhythm and melody are repeated without end and the young men dance around until bathed in sweat. If this release of excessive energy -- an unbelievable amount in the context of their everyday labors -- is maintained, a new intoxication, born from the limits of fatigue, will produce a new liberation of mind. This liberation of the mind, produced as the final result of such tension, can also be found within the state of extremity experienced by the isolated individual, as noted by William James.13 In the case of the festival noted here, however, it is, of course, a group phenomenon, and in that sense if can be viewed as something produced within the situation of "collective effervescence" noted by Durkheim.14 Such a collectivity does not necessarily rely upon the mobilization of a large number of actors, but it cannot be denied that the larger the group, the greater the possibility for this phenomenon to occur. Further, not just people, but a wealth of symbols are also mobilized to the greatest possible degree, symbols including music and dance and the effects of abundant fire, light, and color. We can perhaps call it a situation which aims explicitly for an excessive consumption accompanying the casting off of every kind of restriction.

Here, rather than ritual, the characteristic form of behavior might be said to be anti-ritual, or interference with ritual. The mode of anti-ritual is based on the antithetical premise of ritual. The reason for my using the methodological concept of "ritual" (saigi) and "festival" (shukusai) is primarily based on this discrimination of modes.15 In "ritual," no matter how simple or complex, that which links together all such forms is the attitude of reverence and solemnity towards the sacred existence which is invoked. Rather than acting with unswerving purity and circumspection in his private affairs, and keeping himself constantly pure from everyday pollutions, the person invoking or greeting the deity -- precisely because he is in the non-everyday position of greeting the deity -- is made strongly conscious of the two categories of purity and impurity in his daily life, thus becoming the subject for purification. More than the passive attitude of taboo (imi[Glossary: imi]), of not drawing near to polluted objects, he rather enters a life of sanctification (iwai) involving the practice of positive purifications (harai[Glossary: harai,_harae]).

For example, in the case of Hida Furukawa, banners and sacred trees (sakaki) are set up at the borders and other important places through the town, while at individual homes, general cleaning is performed, after which curtains dyed with family crests are hung at the latticed entrance to houses, and pairs of handled lanterns are arrayed at the gate. In this way, the homes are no longer the site of secular life, but have been transformed into the realm of the sacred. Consider as well the sight of the town elders, dressed in their formal kimono with black crests and wearing ichimonji headwear, white tabi and zôri as they align themselves solemnly within the hall of the town's tutelary shrine to greet the deity; no matter how that deity may tend to be forgotten in everyday life, anyone witnessing this scene must admit that here is presented the world of order set out in its perfection, with the deity before all. With the deity occupying the central place of honor, those men greeting the deity express their own relative rankings by sitting in a strict order on the left and right sides (or right and left, when viewed facing the divine seat), and from near to farther away from the deity. Led by the kannushi and other priests, the order of the ceremony is a thoroughgoing embodiment of these hierarchical coordinates. All actions and behavior during the ritual are a rational attempt to realize the utmost in sacred order. At the same time, the ritual process is a reconfirmation of each element of the order of the local society. In broad terms, this involves the precedence of "public" (ôyake) over the "private" (watakushi), "inside" (uchi) over "outside" (soto), and central over local or peripheral authority. The parish representative (ujiko sôdai[Glossary: ujiko_sodai]) supported by family status, long years of experience and economic power; the town officials whose contributions and leadership ability are tested; the town mayor and chair of the town assembly; -- this hierarchy of figures from the "inside" of the town is joined by representatives of "outside," central power such as members of the national and prefectural assemblies, and these "center" figures are given superior positions as "guests." And given even greater prestige to these are the offering bearers (kenpeishi) dispatched, as representatives of the central spiritual authority, from the Association of Shinto Shrines (Jinja Honchô[Glossary: jinja_honcho]) and the Prefectural Association of Shrines (Ken-Jinjachô[Glossary: jinjacho]). At Furukawa's Ketawakamiya Shrine, "money offerings" (heihakuryô[Glossary: heihaku]) from the Association of Shinto Shrines, and "gold offerings" (kinpei; also a form of money offering) from the Gifu Prefectural Association of Shrines, are presented to the deity by the offering bearers. From the viewpoint of ancient tradition, it would be equivalent to the imperial court's making offerings on the occasion of rituals at regional shrines. In terms of content, it expresses the typical structure of ancient religion as seen in the concept of "unity of worship and rule" (saisei ittai) whereby the ritual kingship at the center recognized the right of the regional power to perform worship. In the Shrine Shinto which was separated from the imperial house rituals[Glossary: koshitsu_saishi] following World War II, the Association for Shinto Shrines came to carry out this function following its establishment in 1946, and the range of offerings made was expanded to include the 80,000 ordinary nationwide shrines which were under the aegis of the Association. In any event, on the occasion of the shrine worship held during festivals, the local society reproduces a microcosmos which has immanent within it that mythological macrocosmos present on the national level. The sacred order created on such occasions is complete -- the perfect realization of order the "way it is supposed to be," instead of in its normal, everyday ambiguity.

Within the strong expression of discrimination between high and low which pervades the relationship of worshiped and worshiper, the power of the deity finds reason for praise, and the implorings of human beings find their origins. Those ritual roles which have been strictly ordained in advance are distributed in accordance with differences in position and qualification, a small number of "named" individuals serve as representatives for a much larger mass of the "unnamed," with symbolic duty taking precedent over utilitarian rights. Paradoxically, communion with the deities is realized, on the whole, through a rigid disjunction.

These shrine ceremonies extend to and blend with the sacred procession of the mikoshi through the town. The divine spirit is transferred to the mikoshi, while before and behind, formally dressed festival officials provide escort as the procession is led along the streets of the town. In front of the houses of powerful parishioners and at the main intersections of the town streets, the procession stops, and a divine service is performed briefly in front of the mikoshi. In advance of the procession, individual homes have used salt (formerly, red soil was used) to purify the fronting street and the area before the entry way, and offerings of rice and money have been placed on lacquered trays in anticipation of the mikoshi's arrival. A lion dance (shishimai) is performed at the head of the procession to drive away evil spirits, and as the dancers stop before each home, small gifts are passed out. When the mikoshi passes by, the prepared offerings are presented and worship is performed. At many other homes, the members of the household may join the procession when the mikoshi stops for its small worship service.

The entire household goes out to reverently meet the sacred procession. And when greeting the parade, one must never look down on it from above. As a result, people do not view the mikoshi procession from their second-floor windows, and even the lion dancers who normally ride through the streets on their floats respectfully descend at this time. One must also refrain from crossing the street through the middle of the long procession. Until 1960, the festival floats also joined the parade as escorts to the mikoshi procession, but from the following year this practice was abolished and in its place banners with the names of the various floats were carried in the procession instead. As a result, the present mikoshi procession has an even a stronger flavor of shrine ceremonial. One might say that the "ritual locale" has expanded from the shrine to the arteries of the city.

It is precisely because this daytime "ritual" is observed with such solemnity that the tumultuous float procession and wild okoshi daiko held as night are so conspicuous. In the case of the float procession, strong and explicit restrictions operate on the sense of competition between the floats from various town wards, and on the surface of things, the procession appears to proceed with formal restraint. But when it comes to the okoshi daiko held late at night, these kinds of external restrictions fly out the window on the wings of a feverish expectancy of liberation. Here, the minority of formally attired, "named" powers lose their central role to the majority in the stark naked, "unnamed" mass, and it would appear that the direct clash of nakedness against nakedness makes possible not only the communion of fellow human beings, but that between human and divinity as well. Needless to say, since it is a festival (matsuri), the ritual principle pervades this activity, too. Even the okoshi daiko follows a predetermined course, and those youths specially chosen continue to beat energetically on the towering drum as though loathe to disrupt the steady rhythm. But what actually regulates the overall tenor of the occasion is the fierce attacks of the tsuke daiko which attempt somehow to disrupt the procession and bring it to ridicule. Here, spontaneity seems to rule over regularity, and it is impossible to anticipate what kind of danger may occur. It is said that in the past, as the okoshi daiko proceeded down the road by the river, it was occasionally overturned into the current. The crowds of onlookers as well have occasionally climbed, not just up to the roofs and second stories of homes, but onto embankments and garden trees in order to get a better view of the naked contest, anxiously excited with the expectancy of some unforeseen "happening." Everyone is in agreement that danger awaits any woman or child who ventures too near the uproar -- who knows what their fate will be at the hands of these drunken, spirited young men? But even so -- or rather, precisely because it is so -- people want to draw near and experience the thrill of madly evading that danger. As the screams of young women fill the air, the young men rise up with even greater vigor.

It should be noted that the main actors in this antinomian performance are -- as though by formal agreement -- the young men of the town. From its very nature, the occasion directly engages the sightseeing crowds as well. As a result, it involves the participation of old and young, both men and women, and for this reason alone the effervescent spirit of the event is assured. In the end, however, it must be said that the central role is still played by the mass of young men. This point can be made not only with regard to the okoshi daiko of the Furukawa Festival, but for all the festivals I have given as examples. As a vivid instance of this typical case, we might consider the festival of Ôgisai seen in Kurokawa. The overall leadership, or central role throughout the Ôgi Festival is held by the "head" (tônin) and other members of the "men's group" (otona shû) within the shrine association (miyaza), together with the members of the Noh guild (nôza) who perform sacred Noh dances. The tônin himself is the eldest member of the shrine association, and he is considered the master of the god's temporary dwelling during the period of the festival. In that sense, a principle is at work whereby the young men of the community can never be granted more than supplementary, supporting roles by the strict age-grade system of the miyaza, and by the Noh guild with its requirements of long years of apprenticeship and practice.

But on the dawn following the end of the ceremonies at the deity's temporary dwelling, the divine symbol is returned to the Kasuga Shrine, and along the road returning to the shrine, a rite called Asajinjô, is held as the last event of the festival. The Asajinjô is a rite of conflict between the upper and lower shrines forming the Kasuga Shrine, and it is here that the young men -- until then limited to mere supporting roles -- take the center stage.

In addition, the final climax following completion of the Noh program at the shrine involves competitive contests with such names as tana agari jinjô and mochikiri jinjô and these fierce competitions are held between the young men divided into two groups corresponding to the two halves of the shrine guild ("upper guild": jôza and "lower guild" geza). Even before the last Noh presentation is finished, the young men are excitedly readying themselves with vigor for the contests, quarrels breaking out here and there between intoxicated enthusiasts, and resulting in a chaotic atmosphere. The contests called tana agari and mochikiri are particularly important -- the honor of the two groups rides on their success -- and two youths selected from each of the two shrine groups have important roles as lantern bearer and ô (fan) bearer for the festival's tônin. As a result, the young men, centering on these two youths, form secret strategies aiming at the quick defeat of their opponents; their practice for the competitions has been undertaken seriously, continuing unabated since even before the start of the festival.

At a mid-point in the festival we thus find continuous rituals performed day and night at the temporary divine dwelling and the main shrine, while before and after this point we find either the kind of disorderly, antinomian rites of "sacred transgression" noted above and performed by the young men, or else the long, drawn-out rituals patiently celebrated, primarily during the first half of the festival.

For example, at four o'clock on the morning of February 1, a long, solemn service begins in the freezing hall of the shrine. Based on a ritual procedure so complicated that it cannot possibly be performed without detailed instructions from the head priest, the other priests together with the tônin and other officiants from the two halves of the shrine guild (upper guild and lower guild) perform an exchange of ritual cups of rice wine that is repeated a full twenty-one times. At dawn, the "Ôgi-sama"[Glossary: ogisama] -- the divine symbol in the form of a bontenIV -- is formally greeted by the two men serving as lay-officiants (tôya) and thus host for the deity (kamiyado) for the two halves of the shrine guild, after which the rituals and feasting continue in accordance with strict status hierarchies. The performances of Noh at the homes of the tôya finally begin sometime after nightfall that day. During that entire time, the role of the young men has been merely to serve as attendants to the tôya, or as runners to deliver messages to various homes in the town. During the performance of Noh, if they do not have roles as musicians or dancers in the performance, they are relegated merely to the responsibility for trimming the wicks of the huge colored candles surrounding the stage. In essence, although the superficial side of the festival is characterized by the performance of orderly ceremonies, the obverse side involves rituals of confrontation which effervesce with chaotic energy, and it is here that the young men of Kurokawa take the leading role.

Socially, the young men in this group are in an unstable position during this period of transition between their former status as children and their future status as adults. This unstable status is reflected on the symbolic dimension as well by their role in acting out the condition of chaos common to the "carnival" side of the matsuri. When we consider the fact that in a society bound by a strict hierarchical system based on age rankings, this kind of "festival" chaos temporarily dissolves the status order, allowing young men the opportunity to become adults,16 the position of young men in matsuri has a significance which cannot be totally explained as merely the result of traditional custom.

Although the material given above has been fragmentary, I have attempted through it to touch on the aspect of "sacred transgression" found in Japanese matsuri. At the same time, I must admit to some doubt as to whether the examples given are so genuinely antinomian as to deserve so harsh a term as "sacred transgression." In each of these cases, the oral tradition speaks of a past in which phenomena more genuinely of the nature of sacred transgression were present, but currently, these things seem to have largely disappeared. The reason for this disappearance is primarily to be found in the prohibitions imposed under the name of modernization, and above all in the qualitative change in the evaluation of festivals within modern civilization.

At the same time, when we ask ourselves about the source of vitality for those festivals which continue to be transmitted in some form, we cannot ignore the existence of an explicit social inclination toward the phenomenon of sacred transgression, no matter how watered down it may be. This feeling was reinforced, in fact, while working on this essay, due to an opportunity I had to visit the islands of Oki no Shima and observe the summer festival of the small harbor town of Uragô on Nishinoshima (the great festival of the shrine Yurahime Jinja). From evening until deep at night, I witnessed the rousing procession of the mikoshi carried primarily by young fishermen; the procession passed along a short road that wouldn't have taken ten minutes to walk, but required a full three hours for the mikoshi, even though it didn't rest once from its violent shaking and twisting. The only word to describe the crazed movement of the mikoshi was "irresponsibly reckless"; one after the other the uniformly drunken and exhausted bearers would lose their footing and collapse, only to be trampled underfoot by the others. Companions would then grab arm and leg and forcibly pull the unfortunate one out from under the mikoshi. The man who was thus saved would not utter a word of thanks; on the contrary, he would express his anger at being pulled out by attacking his rescuers. In turn, any man attempting to step in and mediate the dispute would also be attacked, resulting in an expanding wave of quarrels spreading out independently of the mikoshi. Even the members of the otona-shû, who wore formal kimono and were ostensibly in charge of directing the mikoshi, had largely resigned themselves to the uproar from the beginning, and did nothing but hover around the peripheries and overlook the situation. The crowd of spectators, while having to flee numerous times in order to avoid the danger of being caught up in the chaos, nonetheless continued to press closely on the melee. I was especially impressed by a little boy about three years old who clung tightly to the neck of his young father, and while half-sobbing "it's scary, it's scary," seemed to show absolutely no desire to leave the area of the rampaging mikoshi.

In sum, my inescapable feeling is that whenever we speak of the religious vitality of festivals, we must consider head-on and without prejudice the significance of this tendency toward "sacred transgression "

Epilogue: On the Far Side of Sacred Transgression

The method used here to deal with the phenomena which I have forced into the category of "sacred transgression" admittedly has about it a bit of conceptual exaggeration based on a rather tentative thesis. In addition, if we follow the suggestions of Yanagawa Keiichi, who has made lucid proposals regarding the investigation of matsuri from the standpoint of the history of religions,17 then my work here clearly falls into the category of research premised on a "theology of matsuri." Of the three "theologies" noted by Yanagawa, I may have set feet in both the camps of matsuri as a "sacred drama" and as the "coexistence of contraries."18 In either case, any further theorizing beyond what I have done thus far would clearly involve entry into some kind of theological domain. Since I am not yet prepared, however, to attempt to construct a systematic theoretical position, I will at present refrain from using the word "theology."

As I noted at the beginning, merely to point out the presence of a debased "festival" aspect in matsuri would justify the title neither of field report nor research. My intent in attempting to treat this data within the rubric of 'sacred transgression' has therefore been in order to use this category as a means of helping us better understand the basic principles inherent in the phenomenon of matsuri. In broad terms, the problem is "where do we position the orientation toward 'sacred transgression' within the religious plot of the matsuri?" Merely using a straight structural analysis to show how contradictions are resolved through the operation of a mediating element, or the process of a dialectical resolution of contraries, seems overly abstract and unjust to the actual data. Even if the ultimate framework indeed has this kind of structure, I want to think that what has induced or introduced that structure is not some universal human dynamics common to all cultures, but rather a type of symbolic signification or image.

When voiced in this way, it may be thought that one could immediately assume a kind of concrete mythological narrative or plot development. Unfortunately, however, the issue is not so simple. One can, of course, detect certain motifs or rhetorical narrative elements within any matsuri, such as the motif of the meeting between the god and goddess seen in the night festival as Chichibu, or the descent of and mingling with the deities seen in the festivals at Furukawa and Kurokawa. But even so, such plot elements lend us virtually no aid at all when it comes to explaining the orientation toward sacred transgression proposed here. The question of why the young men publicly prepare for such a high degree of antinomian activities, and why such activities are permitted, clearly cannot be fully answered merely by such elements of dramatic plot.

If it is possible to find an answer to this question from a somewhat different direction, that direction will tentatively be on the "farther side" of concrete myths and the narrative plot of matsuri, something which on a more fundamental level, underlies it all as a principle running through both religion and society. Let us postulate two kinds of society, one which grants the possibility for publicly permitting -- as a "sacred transgression" -- what on the phenomenal level can be called an "orgy " and on the other hand, a society which permits absolutely no occasion to such orgy, considering it a crime to be totally proscribed. Then, with regard to the question of why the one society permits it and other society proscribes it, is it completely rash to consider that there might be differing structures of meaning which, as fundamental principles, control the religious expressions of the respective societies, and that such differences appear here, in festivals?

The classical scholar Karl Kerényi has stated that the festivals observed by the societies of ancient Greece and Rome included a unique element of "festiveness" (Fest-Qualität) which could not be reduced to any other term, and further, that the modern societies of Western Europe had already lost this quality, so that it had become a concept virtually impossible for moderns to understand.19 In turn, the literary philosopher Johan Huizinga has attempted to bridge this cultural gap through his use of the concept of "play."20 While leaving a phenomenological consideration of "festivals" and "play" to another occasion, the significance of these comments should be considered seriously. If what I have called the orientation toward "sacred transgression" structures at very least the "festival" or "carnival" side of the matsuri, then we should keep in mind the possibility that we Japanese whose educations have been based on the learning of the modern West may also have had our sensitivity to "festiveness" significantly dulled, with the result that it may behoove us to approach the meaning of the subject with a bit less self-assurance. In this sense, the insistence found in those writings of Gilbert Durand21 and Georges Bataille22 which have been recently introduced to Japan may be of help in strengthening this perspective. In contrast to the analytical train of thought which is characteristic of modern science, Durand insists on the extreme importance for human cultures of the symbolic mode found in religion and art. He calls the former mode the "system of day," and the latter the "system of night," thus calling for a rectification of the tendency for modern civilization to make an absolute out of the former while totally banishing the latter. Bataille too, uses his incisive irony to highly evaluate the disobedient and paradoxical nature of festival.

Aside, however, from this kind of philosophical speculation, the work of the literary historian Mikhil Bakhtine is full of rich suggestions based on more concrete, substantive evidence.23 Needless to say. Bakhtine finds the positive value of the sixteenth century French author François Rabelais in the medieval folk culture of carnival-like laughter forming the background for Rabelais' writings; Bakhtine analyzes in detail the rich portrayal in Rabelais' stories of festivals and outdoor feasts enjoyed in town squares, side by side with what should be called grotesque physical images. According to Bakhtine, Rabelais was an enormously important presence, one which set the course for post-Renaissance literature not only in France, but throughout the world. That later evaluations of Rabelais tended to be sharply divided between heady praise and dismissive scorn was due to the fact that his works had a grandeur which broke out of the framework of the existing narrow classicism, with the result that they exceeded the then-contemporary capacity for understanding. And the greatest reason for this is the fact that Rabelais' works used literary images to give life to the medieval folk culture of the comic. The aesthetics of modern bourgeois society cast away its origins among the folk, and was thus incapable of correctly understanding this culture of the comic; while emphasizing this point Bakhtine attempts a fresh reappraisal of the deep originality of that culture.

What especially draws our interest is Bakhtine's reference to three basic forms within the expressive variety of this popular culture of laughter, and of these, the first is the "ceremonial, spectacle form (the carnival type of fetes, the various comedies enacted in the public square)" (Bakhtine, 11). Needless to say, Bakhtine views that medieval popular form of the comic typified in the carnival, as "one of the most important primary forms of human culture." He goes on to say that the public festivals staged by the medieval church and state were antithetical to the true essence of human celebration. At the same time, the aspect of the comic found within the so called "festival of fools" was "not an abstract, purely negative ridicule directed toward the rituals of the church and ecclesiastical hierarchy. The 'moment' of negative ridicule was buried deeply within the ecstatic laugh of rebirth and restoration. The 'second human instinct' is laughter, the laughter of the material, physical substructure which is not expressed in the world view and rituals of the public domain" (Bakhtine, 71). As he notes here, in the medieval period that laughter was isolated from the realm of public festivals and, rather than existing alongside the public, it took on a unique comic form and thus appeared on the popular level as a physical materialization of the abstract nature of that ritual observed in the public domain. The logic of this topology was that of a "bringing low," or "devaluation"; that which was lofty and old, that which was perfected, was thrown down to a material, physical hell in order to effect a death and new birth (Bakhtine, 76). According to Bakhtine, this kind of making low or pulling down is a "universal principle of festival and feast" (24), but the significance of this statement is in the fact that "on that occasion one turns again to the things of the world, becoming one with the earth in the sense of taking all in and simultaneously giving birth to all" (26). "Namely, the bringing low, pulling down, is a burial, and the same time a planting, a putting to death, but one for the purpose of giving life in a newer, more perfected form" (26). This form of medieval folk festival was nothing other than the result of a folkloristic transmission of the festival of the agricultural deity Saturnarius from the ancient Roman world. Further, the idolatrous representation of the deity itself was none other than the "grotesque image" seen in the uncanny pictorial furnishings of ancient ruins which were discovered all around Rome in the late fifteenth century. According to Bakhtine, the essence of this kind of decoration was seen in the extraordinarily unrestrained, free and playful treatment given to plants, animals, humans, and forms. Those forms exceeded their individual borders, becoming so intertwined as though mutually giving birth to each other (34).

What we should note with regard to Bakhtine's attempted analysis of the "grotesque image" found in the festival, and which flowed from ancient Rome through medieval Europe, is first of all the fact that that image had as its essence the "sacred transgression," the sacrilege which "brought low" public powers and order to an earthly, physical ground. Second, that process suggested the cosmological principle of chaos and rebirth within which the publicly created order was done away. The "image of the grotesque" can be said to be a realistic depiction of both poles of change, the new and the old, that which dies and that which is reborn, the beginning and the end of metamorphosis (Bakhtine, 28).

Naturally enough, I do not yet feel the courage necessary to attempt to link the kind of grotesque image indicated by Bakhtine directly to an analysis of the "divine transgression" orientation in the Japanese festivals which I have treated here. At the same time, however, I do feel that I can say at least that the aspect of divine transgression seen in matsuri phenomena can be directly linked culturally to the concept of cosmic chaos, based on the sense of creative regeneration.

While realizing that I may a bit too abrupt, I want to suggest in closing one way of considering this matter. Namely, within any society or group which observes festivals involving an orientation toward a kind of sacred transgression -- no matter in what form that may come -- there may be a principle which, from its presence on the "farther side" of the mythic plot or traditionally transmitted code forming the concrete elements of the festival, fundamentally or universally restricts the structure of the festival. I further want to characterize that principle as a process of rebirth through a return of the self to the state of cosmic chaos. When articulated in this way, it appears to be the same theory as that raised by many other scholars including Mircea Eliade, and I myself have voiced such theories on a number of occasions. But from my viewpoint, it is still a rather experimental adventure.

For example, at the stage of the religion of primitive and archaic societies, a stage at which myth still has a vital existence as sacred order, the festival can indeed be called an embodiment of that order, and the figurative mythic plot thus becomes the direct source for the dramatic structure of festivals. As a result, the primeval chaos spoken of in the myth becomes a symbolic image leading directly to the aspect of "fete" or "carnival" found in religious celebrations. As previous scholars have pointed out, the importance of chaos to the regenerative significance of festivals is in general limited to this stage of religion.

In the religion of the modern period, however, we tend to think that ancient mythic ideas have long since been barred from the realm of religious truth. If so, then what kind of principle supports the structure of those festivals which continue to retain their vitality? As I have noted repeatedly, the principle which leads to the actual unfolding of those modern festivals which I have introduced here is not immediately reducible to the traditionally transmitted plot, or "code."

It seems that modern festivals have long since been divorced from that structure equivalent to the original, concrete mythic code, and thus seem to have taken on a life of their own. But even with regard to such modern festivals, if we once again interpose the principle of a return or reduction to chaos, a return effected by the self-negation of order, and symbolically expressed by the spontaneous realization of the phenomenon of sacred transgression, then I cannot help but feel that the myths of the past and the festivals of the present can be understood as continuing to vibrate sympathetically on the religious dimension.


With regard to the Hida Furukawa Matsuri, which furnished many of the concrete examples raised in this paper, I should note that my field research on this festival was carried out in 1975 as one part of the project "Social Change and Japanese Religion" supervised by the Institute for Japanese Culture and Classics, Kokugakuin University, of which I am a member. In addition, I received great help at the stages of field research and documentation from Rev. Miyasaka Kiyoshi (currently Gon-Negi[Glossary: negi] at the shrine Fushimi Inari Taisha[Glossary: inari]), Hatakeyama Yutaka, currently academic curator of the Machida Shiritsu Minzoku Shiryôkan [Machida Municipal Folk Museum], and Uno Masato (Seijô Daigaku). Responsibility for the conclusions reached from this research, however, rest with myself.

There are many people who showed me great kindness and cooperation during my field research in the town of Hida Furukawa. Since I cannot thank them all individually here, and out of considerations of fairness, I refrain from noting specific names, but I wish to use this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to them all.


1. Claude Levi-Strauss, The Elementary Structures of Kinship (Boston: Beacon Press, 1969).

2. In Nishida Nagao, Kodai bungaku no shûhen (Nan'undô Ôfûsha, 1964), Chapter 1.

3. Roger Caillois, Ningen to seinaru mono (translated from the French L'homme et le sacré by Ogari Meigan), Serika Sôsho No. 2, (Serika Shobô, 1971). English translation Man and the Sacred by Meyer Barash (Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press, 1959), pp. 97-127.

4. E. R. Leach, "Two Essays Concerning the Symbolic Representation of Time," in Rethinking Anthropology (London: The Atholone Press, 1961).

5. Sonoda Minoru, "The Traditional Festival in Urban Society," Kokugakuin Daigaku Nihon Bunka Kenkyûsho kiyô No. 35 (March 1975).

6. Yanagawa Keiichi, "Shinwa to taikô no matsuri," Shisô, No 582 (December 1972).

7. Sonoda, op. cit.

8. Kawagoe Shishi Hensanshitsu, ed., Kawagoe shishi minzokuhen (Kawagoe City, 1968), p. 664.

9. Ôno Masao, "Furukawa Matsuri no hensen," Kitabi Taimusu (April 14, 1974).

10. See Ôno, op. cit.

11. Tomita Iyahiko, Hida gofûdoki (Yûzankaku, 1968).

12. Located in Yamagata Prefecture, Higashitagawa-gun, Kushibiki-chô, Kurokawa.

13. William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (translated by Masuda Keizô as Shûkyôteki keiken no shosô), Vol.1 (Iwanami Bunko, 1969), pp. 313-326.

14. Emile Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (translated by Furuno Kiyoto as Shûkyô seikatsu no gensho keitai), Vol. 2 (Iwanami Bunko, 1942), p. 247.

15. Sonoda Minoru, "Matsuri - hyôshô no kôzô" in Girei no kozô (Volume 2 of the series Nihonjin no shûkyô) (Kôsei Shuppansha, 1972), p. 261.

16. Victor W. Turner, The Ritual Process (Chicago: Adline, 1969), pp. 95-97.

17. Yanagawa Keiichi, "Matsuri no shingaku to matsuri no kagaku - Aizu Tajima Gion Matsuri[Glossary: gion_matsuri] oboegaki," Shisô, No. 596 (November, 1971), p. 61.

18. Ibid., pp. 65, 68.

19. Karl Kerényi, Shinwa to kodai shûkyô (translated from the German Die Religion der Griechen und Romer by Takahashi Hideo [Shinchôsha, 1972]). English translation The Religion of the Greeks and Romans by Christopher Holme (London: Thames and Hudson, 1962). See especially (English version) p. 53 and passim.

20. Johan Huizinga, Homo rûdensu, (translated from the English Homo ludens by Takahashi Hideo [Chûô Kôronsha, 1963]; also translated by Satomi Gen'ichirô [Kawade Shobô Shinsha, 1971]).

21. Gilbert Durand, Shôchô no sôzôryoku, translated from the French L'imagination symbolique by Unami Akira (Serika shobô, 1970).

22. Georges Bataille, erotishizumu, translated from the French L'Erotisme by Shibusawa Tatsuhiko, (Futami Shobô, 1973).

23. Mikhil Bakhtine, Furansowa Rabure-no sakuhin to chûsei runessansu no minshû bunha, translated from the Russian by Kawabata Kaori; (Serika Shobô, 1974). All subsequent page references to Bakhtine's work in the text are to the Japanese edition.

Translator's Notes

I. This article appeared originally in Japanese as "Shukusai to seihan," Shisô, No. 617 (November 1975) p. 62-82. The rendering of seihan as "sacred transgression" is based on the usage in Meyer Barash's translation of Roger Caillois's L'homme et le sacré (Man and the Sacred; see above note 3).

Sonoda's original notes to this essay have been rearranged somewhat in consideration of Western usage, and unless otherwise noted his quotations of various non-Japanese sources have here been rendered as "reverse translations" from the Japanese; they should thus be considered paraphrases rather than direct quotations or translations from the original works.

II. The "temporary shrine" (otabisho) is a site prepared as the resting place for the deity's "sacred palanquin" (mikoshi) during the duration of a festival. Normally located near or within the everyday profane community, the tabisho forms the "destination" to which the deity, in its mikoshi, travels from its normal residence in the main ritual.

III. The Nippon Gakujutsu Shinkô[Glossary: shinko]kai, (editor and translator), The Man'yôshû, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1965), p. 222.

IV. Originally a transliteration of the Sanskrit "Brahman," the term bonten refers to a kind of ceremonial purification wand formed of large numbers of paper or cloth streamers attached to a long wooden handle.

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