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十月〈神無月〉 October/ Kannnazuki


The month’s traditional name, Kannazuki, has the ominous meaning “godless month”, or “month of the gods’ absence”. It’s because during this time the eight million(!) gods in the Shinto pantheon are said to convene elsewhere, in Izumo, Tottori Prefecture. Thus, in Izumo the month is conversely referred to as Kamiarizuki, “the month of the gods’ presence”, and includes ceremonies to welcome the gods on the beach known as Inasa no Hama. Residents of Tottori have their own complex take on tradition, holding a diverse variety of autumn rites and festivals that celebrate the bounteous harvests. The multifarious events spotlight much of what Japanese people have come to hold dear as the fruits of nature: flowers, sake, tea, rice and more.





The Jidai Matsuri, or “Festival of the Ages” has a notably short history of just 120 or so years. Nevertheless, it’s possibly the most popular of the “big three” festivals. It was established as a commemoration of Kyoto’s status as the nation’s capital over the roughly 1100 year stretch from 794 CE through the end of the 19th century, with only a brief interruption. The festival truly sets the autumn scene in Kyoto most comprehensively, with its color, events and overall character.

This period marks the culmination of the Gion Matsuri in the form of the Shinko-sai, a ceremony played out at Kyoto’s Heian Jingu shrine, among Japan’s holiest, with strong ties to the imperial household. At noon between two and three thousand celebrants dressed in authentic costumes representing the period from the Heian/Enryaku eras (around the 8th century CE) to the beginning of the Meiji era (1863 to 1912) gather at the site of the Kyoto Imperial Palace, whereupon the sanctified, phoenix-topped mikoshi are carried in processions from the Kenrei Mon gate through town to the Heian Jingu shrine.


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