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Festivals Yearly festivals and events

Based on the ancient Chinese concept, time and direction is divided into 12 blocks, each being given the name of an animal. Most people in Japan are very familiar with these 12 animals, and are familiar with each animal allotted to each year.

The 12 animals are: mouse (ne), cow (ushi), tiger (tora), rabbit (u), dragon (tatsu), snake (mi), horse (uma), sheep (hitsuji), monkey (saru), bird (tori), dog (inu), and boar (i).Each symbol determines the character and destiny of a person born in that year.
There are also five elements used: tree (ki), fire (hi), earth (tsuchi), metal (ka), and water (mizu). Therefore the days are described using these units. These elements also have two ways of being pronounced, "noe" and "noto".

The agenda for the festivals and events can be different each year because of the usage of Chinese zodiac signs, and the lunar and solar calendar.

The year on Taketomi Island begins by welcoming the gods of rich harvest.

Yuhnkai (Welcoming)

It is celebrated on August 8th of the lunar calendar. Niraikainai, the god, carries the seeds of grains to Taketomi Island, while priests and officials on the island dedicate the prayers and songs to welcome the god at Nihran near the Kondoi beach. They also show Him the way to Kukkubah of Kontoe-On.

Respect for the Old

On September 15th of the solar calendar, they celebrate Old People's Day on Taketomi Island. The people on the island celebrated this day long before the rest of Japan made it a holiday. In 1924, the celebration of Old People's Day was held because of a proposal of Kohki Uema, the village headman. At the celebration the whole island, including children and grandchildren, perform dances for their elders.

Junguya/ A Full moon Festival

This is the fifteenth night of the lunar month. This festival is held to pray for the rich harvest, and it has been considered a male's festival.
During the daytime, people raise the flag on a pole in the school yard, perform dances with sticks, receive the seeds of grains from the Fortune God, and hold a tug of war. At night, they offer rice cakes and silver grass for the occasion, and enjoy viewing the moon.

Shichimatsuri

This is said to be an Old New Year Festival. People clean the land and water from the well to meet new year, but there were thought to be monsters and wills-o'-the-wisp on new year's eve, so priests and officials from the Public Hall offer prayers to Muhyama (Six Ons), and each Kuninaka, Seimei, and Nishitoh's On.

Kugachifuhnigai

This is celebrated on September 9th of the lunar calendar, and is one of the seasonal festivals. People pray for longevity by offering the god chrysanthemum sake, with three chrysanthemum leaves on it.
They also celebrate the Potato Festival by offering cooked potatoes. They give their prayers to Muhyama: Hazama, Nahji, Kontoe, Kumahra, Hanakku, and Baiyah On.

Tanadhui / Tanedori Festival

This is the biggest festival held on Taketomi Island. It takes place for ten days during September and October of the lunar calendar, from "kinoesaru", the old Chinese way of telling the time, to "kinoeuma."

Turukki
This is the day of "kinoesaru."Turukki means the prayer for deciding the roles of entertainment and dedicating it to the god. The people that dedicate kyongi are the Kuniyoshi Family of Hazama Village and Ikumori Family of Nahji Village. Each of them prays to Honjah God and then begins their practice.

Taniurushi
This is the day of "tsuchinoene." Taniurushi means sowing. The head of the house performs a ritual sowing in each field. And in the same day they cook offerings for Tanedori Festival and Iiyachi, they also steam and knead millet, rice and red beans.

Ngasohji, shikumi
This is the day of "Tsuchinotoushi." Ngasohji means a great devotion of one's faith so on this day, people are forced to be circumspect. At the home of the director of Public Hall, women and their sisters called "onarigami" (the belief that sisters of brothers have a spiritual power to protect them. People carry their sisters' bunch of hair or a hand made cloth for the safety of their journey) are invited to perform the "Iiyachikami " ritual. People rehearse (shikumi) for the dedication ceremony in each village at night.

Sachibudhui, Yuhkui
This is the day of "kanoetora". Sachibudhui means "the leading dance."
The ritual takes place in the early morning, and people make a pilgrimage to the director's house, dedicate the garden entertainment, and then dedicate the stage entertainment of Hazama Village. At night, "Yuhkui" is executed with the Nehara Family as the starting point.

Atou
This is the day of "kanotou." "Atoubudhui " means "the last dance." This ritual takes place in the early morning, and people make a pilgrimage to "shidhuryani", kyongi, dedicate the garden entertainment, and then dedicate the stage entertainment of Nahji Village.

Jungachinigai

This is the day of "mizunoetora" in October of the lunar calendar. It is also called "jungachitakabi." It is a festival to prevent fire and drowning.
Marchi-On (one of the Ons) plays the central role. This festival hates fire so that means we never light incense.

Nahkiyoi

This celebration takes place in the beginning of November of the lunar calendar. People pray for the seeds they sow to strike root in the soil, and then they offer a meal to Muhyama, containing tapuna, seaweed, papaya, bean sprouts dressed with miso, on a small, high dinning table. The "omishako," a libation, is set between two people, and they sing the song of "omishako."

Suhma

This is December 31st, the day of New Year's Eve on the solar calendar. On this day, people see the old year out, and the New Year in, by having what they call "Yuttungui," a feast named "furumai-gozen." The feast is prepared for all of the family members.

Shongachi

January the first is New Year's Day on the solar calendar. People set a washtub of fresh water from the Hanakku Well or the Nahji Well to wash their faces, hands and feet, because it is said that the water can make them look younger. *****They decorate tokonoma, an alcove, with "hanagome," a branch with round colored- rice cakes, a libation, and mounted salt. *****
In addition, the first visitor on New Year's Day is better to be a man, for good fortune.

Shohninyoi

This takes place around New Year's Day of the lunar calendar. Shohnin means a man and woman born in a year with the same sign of the current Chinese zodiac. This event used to be held in each family. Since 1960, it is held as a joint ceremony sponsored by the Public Hall. In addition, there is a ceremony called Ågmandarahyoi Åhthe pinwheel ceremony, that is held for all97 year-old-people.

Piruzuma (Festival)

The day of "kinotou" is in December on the lunar calendar. It is a festival to pray for abundant garlic crops.
Priests gather at the Ishikawa Family, polish swords, and pray for the first harvest of garlic. They offer a prayer to Fuinah-On and Seimei-On, and then, finally, dedicate the sword to the Ishikawa Family.

Juhrukunichi

January 16th on the lunar calendar is called the ancestors' New Year's Day.
People cook a feast and visit cemeteries. Once they used to sing and dance before the grave, visit relatives' graves and enjoyed the time. At night, children gathered at their friend's house, with a full feast, and they sang and danced.

Ningachimatsuri

This is the day of "mizunoe", in February of the lunar calendar. It is the festival to pray for the fine crop.
It is also called "Taniirinigai." The priests and officials on the island pray at Marchi-On, Fuinah-On, and Seimei -On.

Sanichi

This is held March 3rd of the lunar calendar. It is the girl's festival.
Yomogimochi, a mugwort rice cake, is made and placed on the tokonoma (an alcove) and butsudan (a Buddhist altar). Girls dig for seashells and play at the beach. A girl who doesn't join the seashell-digging is said to be transformed into an owl. The folk-tale called "Habu Mukoiri" ("The Pit Viper Groom") is thought to be the origin of this superstition.

Shigachifuhnigai

In April of the lunar calendar, "kinoe or "tsuchinoe" is observed. People celebrate the fine crops for two days. Priests pray and stay at Nishitoh-On, Seimei-On and Kontoe-On through the night. On the next day, they pray at Muhyama, and other major Ons.

Nishitohbanhajiri

This is the first day of "mizunoe", during June of the lunar calendar. This festival was named after Nishitoh, the local hero. They say that thanksgiving rich harvest festival called Pui begins on this day.
The day of "mizunoe" in June is also called "Onpui." The officials go around Muhyama to pray and show their appreciation by singing the "omishako (libation)" song. The next day is "mizunoto," Tounuipui is held at the Tounui Family.

Pui

The day of "mizunoe" in June is also called "Onpui." The officials go around Muhyama to pray and show their appreciation by singing the "omishako (libation)" song. The next day is "mizunoto," Tounuipui is held at the Tounui Family.

Tanabatanigai

This is held on July 7th of the lunar calendar. It is different from the mainland's Star Festival. The master of the Yonaguni Family, who supervises the Miruku God, Public Hall officials, and the elders are in charge of this festival and pray to the Miruku God at Mirukuhouanden. At the same time, they give costumes an airing.

Nankashohro

This is also held on July 7th of the lunar calendar. "Nankashohro" means "a seventh day sprite." Each family makes an offering to their Buddhist altar.
It is "Tanabata Bon," and is recognized as a part of the Bon Festival. Its point of view is very similar to the one in the Kinki area.

Shohro (Bon)

This is celebrated from July 13 to July 15, on the lunar calendar.
On the first morning, people build an open-air fire at the gate to welcome their ancestors, spirits that will arrive in the evening. On all three nights, people go around to each family and perform "Angama Dance."
When they bid farewell to the souls of the other world, they burn "uchikabi (paper money)" outside the gate.

Kitsugan

The first day of "mizunoe" in August, on the lunar calendar, takes place at "Mainu-On (Seimei-On)". It is a festival to celebrate the accomplishments of their prayers. "Shiban Kyongi" and "Imohori Kyongi" are dedicated to the god.
It is said that Yunchu, the official of Ryukyu Dynasty, was the one who first started this festival in 1875.

The year ends when people show their gratitude to nature and their gods.

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