Once in Every 20 Years! Ise Shrine Sengu Festival 伊勢神宮式年遷宮

  • このエントリーをはてなブックマークに追加
  • SumoMe

It’s been a long time since I last wrote an article about Japan.

All should thank to my new project Shen Lim TV. >< The last 2 weeks drove me crazy as I promised to myself that I would make at least 2 videos a month. As a result, I have been spending times on planning new videos, shooting, editing, releasing to public, everything 1 MAN SHOW! TT

Though It was tough, I learned a lot from the process of making videos. And guess what, my 1st vlog – “4 levels of Japanese Heee” got more than 2,000 views after 5 days release!!!

To be honest, I never expected my video would be watched or shared. I just made it for fun and because of the many positive comments from my audience, I decided to keep on making more videos about Japan topics. Thanks for supporting Shen Lim TV! You’re awesome!

———————

Ise Shrine Sengu Festival 伊勢神宮式年遷宮

OK let’s get to the topic.

Today I want to introduce a very rare chance in one’s life could see – Shikinen Sengu in Ise Shrine!! (伊勢神宮の式年遷宮) I went on a 1 day bus tour with Hippo Family (a Japan-based multilingual association) friends. Let’s call it a “Cleansing Tour” because the main purpose of the tour was visiting Ise Shrine (伊勢神宮) and cleansing ourselves.

Trust me, this is a freaking difficult topic because it relates to Japan religion Shinto. I can’t explain the whole thing here but I will try my best to tell what I learned and saw. 🙂

This is one of the Hippo Family in Osaka. They gather once a week and play games with their children....with different languages! Some of the parents have been doing this event for more than 20 years, and they basically and communicate with basic conversation in more than 5 languages! Amazing!

This is one of the Hippo Family in Osaka. They gather once a week and play games with their children….with different languages! Some of the parents have been doing this event for more than 20 years, and they basically can speak the basic conversations in more than 5 languages! Amazing!

I was invited to stay over 1 night at my host mum in Osaka. A member of the Hippo family made me this little cute bottle with my photo inside! (She read my poem before about the floating bottle on the sea) Touching TT

I was invited to stay over 1 night at my host mum in Osaka. A member of the Hippo family made me this little cute bottle with my photo inside! (She read my poem before about the floating bottle on the sea) Touching TT

6am in the morning at Umeda station, Osaka. We have around 10 Chinese students, 1 Taiwanese, 2 Malaysian, 1 Zimbabwean, and around 20 local Japanese parents and their children on the crew. :D

6am in the morning at Umeda station, Osaka. We have around 10 Chinese students, 1 Taiwanese, 2 Malaysian, 1 Zimbabwean, and around 20 local Japanese parents and their children on the crew. 😀

 

In Hippo family, they try hard to create a multilingual environment for their children and promote international exchange activities. Here everyone is friend to each other. No seniority system problem. I love it!

In Hippo family, they try hard to create a multilingual environment for their children and promote international exchange activities. Here everyone is friend to each other. No seniority system problem. I love it!

There were a range of activities in the bus such as Hippo introduction, Ise Shrine presentation, Bingo games, Quiz games, Countries Introduction... Japanese works hard to avoid "nothing-to-do-in-the-bus" problem. :D

There were a range of activities in the bus such as Hippo introduction, Ise Shrine presentation, Bingo games, Quiz games, Countries Introduction… Japanese works hard to avoid “nothing-to-do-in-the-bus” problem. 😀

BINGO game!!!!!

BINGO game!!!!!

We get prizes once we hit BINGO!! The biggest prize is....... Paper Fan!!! Oh gosh that's a needed item for the trip because the sun was pretty big that day!

We get prizes once we hit BINGO!! The biggest prize is……. Paper Fan!!! Oh gosh that’s a needed item for the trip because the sun was pretty big that day!

I was asked to introduce my country Malaysia. Of course I focused on my lovely hometown - Malacca. ^^ Well....I also sang a Malaysia Chinese song 对面的女孩看过来 lol

I was asked to introduce my country Malaysia. Of course I focused on my lovely hometown – Malacca. ^^ Well….I also sang a Malaysia Chinese song 对面的女孩看过来 lol

Everybody got a handout full of sources about Ise Shrine. And... study! :D  They don't want us end up learning nothing at the end of the tour. Besides, studying in advance will make the tour more meaningful. :D

Everybody got a handout full of sources about Ise Shrine. And… study! 😀 They don’t want us end up learning nothing at the end of the tour. We learned about how to pray to the god, the meaning of the god enshrined in each place….

 

Why are we studying all these stuff?

Because we are going to visit the Ise Shrine for its “Shikinen Sengu Festival” only held once in every 20 years! Let me explain the whole thing for you before we see more pictures. ^^

 

Shikinen Sengu 式年遷宮

Shikinen Sengu (式年遷宮) means the religious festival to celebrate the construction of a new shrine and transfer of the enshrined object from the old to the new one.

When we say Sengu (遷宮), it refers to the construction conducted by all shrines in Japan. The cycle span of the Sengu event differs from shrine to shrine. However, Shikinen Sengu (式年遷宮), in many cases, it refers to Ise Shrine, the shrine that holds the largest Sengu festival in Japan in every 20 years.

The word Shikinen (式年) means “fixed year”, which means the “Sengu” festival is conducted after a fixed period of time.

Why do they hold Shikinen Sengu Festival?

One say that the Sengu Festival’s purpose is to keep the holy environment pure and clean, representing the everlasting power of God. On the other hand, the Sengu festival is said to hold the meaning of “return to the source”, which means “God is the beginning of the world”.

古来、神は清らかな環境を好み、穢れを嫌うとされた。このため、神威発揚を祈るためには、老朽化した社殿や神宝を新たに造り替える必要がある、と信じられたのである。
– quoted from Nikkei BP press

“From time immemorial, God is said to prefer pure and clean environment, and dislike the uncleanness. Therefore, it is believed that for the sake of praying for the aggrandizement of the God’s majesty, the superannuated (main building of a) Shinto shrine and the sacred treasure should be renewed after a certain time period.” (translated by Shen)

Overlap of the Ise Shrine Sengu & Izumo Taisha Shrine Sengu

The Sengu Festival this year is rare becauese it’s held only once in every 20 years!! Imagine how old I will be next time I get to see the festival? 44 years old! lol

And 1 more event made this year Sengu festival even rarer – it overlaps with the Izumo Taisha Shrine’s (出雲大社) Sengu festival which is held once in every 60 years! (I probably won’t live to see another Sengu festival in Izumo Taisha Shrine lol…but if we do, let’s bring our grandson together xD)

The Sengu Festival has been held for over 1300 years constantly. It had been held under the management of the country in past times as one of the largest events in the nation. In modern times, government no longer manage the religious festival, however, the tradition is still preserved, and the money which has been donated to hold this 20-years-once-event is said to be 50 billion yen (donation from citizens)! Bravo Japan!

 

What is Ise Shrine (伊勢神宮)?

Since there are a lot of articles about the history of Ise Shrine (wikipedia lol), I will only introduce what I learned from the Japanese people along with my “Cleansing Tour”.

Among thousands of Shinto Shrines in Japan, Ise Shrine, located at Ise city in Mie prefecture, is treated as the most sacred place from time immemorial. Actually, the official name of “Ise Shrine” should be “Shrine” (神宮) only. “Ise Shrine” refers to a group of 125 different shrines in the Ise city.

The Ise Shrine is dedicated to the goddess of sun, also of the universe – Amaterasu-omikami. She is the major deity of the Shinto religion. The meaning of her name is “the great august kami (Gama or God) who shines in the heaven”.
So what we do in the 1 day tour is basically

・visit Ise Shrine (参拝, “Sanpai” means pray)
・study about its tradition & history
・ Special event – Okagura (お神楽)

We can’t see the ceremony of the Sengu because it is top secret of the shrine. Anyway, we arrived at Ise Srhine!!!

See! i told you the sun was big lol

See! i told you the sun was big lol

From Zimbabwe. Reminds me of my friend Tsungai. ^^

From Zimbabwe. Reminds me of my friend Tsungai. ^^

Otemizu (お手水) the first thing we need to do before getting in the sacred shrine. It holds a meaning of cleansing the worldly uncleanness. Use the sacred water to wash our hands, and rinse our mouths.

Otemizu (お手水) the first thing we need to do before getting in the sacred shrine. It holds a meaning of cleansing the worldly uncleanness. Use the sacred water to wash our hands, and rinse our mouths.

 

Geku 外宮, the out wing of the Ise Shrine. The shrine is full of nature and giant tree!

Geku 外宮, the out wing of the Ise Shrine. The shrine is full of nature and giant tree!

My 2 little angels Hayato kun & Aoi chan! Love them so much!!!

My 2 little angels Hayato kun & Aoi chan! Love them so much!!!

There was a powerful spot (They call it "power spot") where you can feel the heat by putting your hand on top of the stone. It's said to be the energy of God, but i thought it might be some sort of hot spring beneath it @@

There was a powerful spot (They call it ”power spot”) where you can feel the heat by putting your hand on the top of the stone. It’s said to be the energy of God, but i thought it might be some sort of hot spring beneath it @@

There was a heart shaped stone wall under the Kazenomiya. It was reported on TV program before and since then tones of tourists come here to tak photos with it. Power of media lol

There was a heart shaped stone wall under the Kazenomiya. It was reported on TV program before and since then tones of tourists come here to take photos with it. Power of media lol

This is how it looks like under the worship place - Kazenomiya 風宮

This is how it looks like under the worship place – Kazenomiya 風宮

Kazenomiya 風宮, the God for sailing and safety. Usually Japanese put 5 yen into the Saisen-bako  (賽銭箱, donation box) and do Nihai-nihaku-ichihai (二拝二拍手一拝, the manners of Japanese praying)

Kazenomiya 風宮, the God for sailing and safety. Usually Japanese put 5 yen into the Saisen-bako (賽銭箱, donation box) and do Nihai-nihaku-ichihai (二拝二拍手一拝, the manners of Japanese praying)

This is the donation box Saisen-bako 賽銭箱.

This is the donation box Saisen-bako 賽銭箱. Looks like somebody wanted to donate drinks lol

Thousands of ppl coming here to pray.

Thousands of ppl coming here to pray.

This is what they pray to. A sacred door. The plant pasted on the door is said to be some kind of greeting to the god.

This is what they pray to. A sacred door. The plant pasted on the door is said to be some kind of greeting to the god.

A stranger came into my photo when i was trying to take a photo of the tree trunk. Well I didn't mean to take your photo. lol

A stranger came into my photo when i was trying to take a photo of the tree trunk. Well I didn’t mean to take your photo. lol

The thing is to protect the tree trunk from the white ants.

The thing is to protect the tree trunk from the white ants.

After the Geku (外宮, out wing of the shrine) we moved to the Naiku (内宮, inside wing of the shrine, which is the main building of the Ise Shrine) The sky is incredibly bautiful isn't it!

After the Geku (外宮, out wing of the shrine) we moved to the Naiku (内宮, inside wing of the shrine, which is the main building of the Ise Shrine) The sky is incredibly bautiful isn’t it!

Don't worry! They are not gangster! They are just coming for worshipping. In Japanese tradition, black color is the color of respect to the god.

Don’t worry! They are not gangster! They are just coming for worshipping. In Japanese tradition, black color is the color of respect to the god.

Finally it's our turn to participate the Okagura (お神楽, a specific type of Shinto theatrical dance), the main event of our 1 day trip.  So we enter the Kagura-den (神楽殿, the building of Kagura), it's air-conditioned! Then we see the dance Okagura, receive the Shinto ritual prayer - Norito 祝詞, get Ofuda (御札,  a type of household amulet) from the Shinto priest. Photograph was not allowed in the hall. too bad TT

Finally it’s our turn to participate the Okagura (お神楽, a specific type of Shinto theatrical dance), the main event of our 1 day trip.
So we enter the Kagura-den (神楽殿, the building of Kagura), it’s air-conditioned! Then we see the dance Okagura, receive the Shinto ritual prayer – Norito 祝詞, get Ofuda (御札, a type of household amulet) from the Shinto priest. Photograph was not allowed in the hall. too bad TT

Visitors are not allowed to see the construction of the Ise Shrine, neither the transfer ceremony of the enshrined objects from old one o new one.

Visitors are not allowed to see the construction of the Ise Shrine, neither the transfer ceremony of the enshrined objects from old one o new one.

Finally we have come to the major deity Amaterasu-omikami! Look at the crowd. Everybody came here just to pray to the Amaterasu. (Photograph is not allowed beyond the Shinto gate.)

Finally we have come to the major deity Amaterasu-omikami! Look at the crowd. Everybody came here just to pray to the Amaterasu. (Photograph is not allowed beyond the Shinto gate.)

Shen Lim
A Chinese Malaysian, Blogger, Vlogger on YouTube, Tour Guide in Japan. He believes 1 day his videos can bring Japan and Malaysia together. マレーシア華人、ブロガー、YouTubeクリエイター、日本にいるツアーガイドです。いつか自分の動画は日本とマレーシアを繋げる架け橋になると信じています。 Read more ABOUT him.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Akina

    こんにちは、お伊勢さん行ってきたんですね
    画像綺麗です&晴天だったようで良かったですね(´ω`●)

    何度かお参りしに行きましたが、ハート型の石があるのは気づきませんでした!
    次は必ずそこにもお参りしないと…笑

    おかげ横丁には行かれましたか?お伊勢さんを出て右手の通りです
    つまみ食い?をしつつの散策が、堪らなく美味しい場所です笑

    1. Leong Shen Lim

      コメントありがとうございます^^
      そうですね!大晴れでしたよ!日焼けするぐらい晴れていましたw

      ハート型の石は最近の話題らしいんです。ぜひ見に行ってみてください^^

      おかげ横丁いきました!次の続編で書こうと思っていますが、ビデオの編集もあってなかなか書けていないのが実情ですが 苦笑w

      また書けたらお読みください^^

  2. Pingback: 12 Things Must Bring & 6 Things Must Do on Awaji Island Beach | Naruhodo! OIC Japan!

  3. Me-chan

    I would love to hear more stories of your adventures in Ise. I just heard of the whole 20 year cycle, and immediately felt that I had to be there for the final rite – the Sengyo – in October. But I’m not sure what it’s like as a tourist experience. Would it be very dry, not like the festive and colorful local shrine festivals you stumble across in Japan? Would I even be able to see the final rite of the cycle? Any help or advice you can give on the subject would be very welcome. Thank you so much!

    P.S. – That’s a beautiful stranger who photobombed your picture of the tree trunk. Maybe she was some sort of kami? ^_^

    1. Leong Shen Lim

      Hi Me-chan, Thanks for the comment ^^ Im so happy to see people are interested in my article topic!

      As for the Sengu, the one I went to was simply just a Shrine trip with many many tourists. We were not allowed to see the real rite and there were no colorful shrine festival. What we did was just going to each sacred spot in the shrine and worshiping. No street food, no carrying Mikoshi ceremony. I think it was because the day we went was not any special Sengu event.

      I just checked the official website of the Ise Shrine http://www.sengu.info/index.html . It seems that the largest rites will be on

      10/2 Sengyo for the Naiku (the inner shrine)
      10/5 Sengyo for the Geku (the outer shrine)

      I suppose there will be many colorful local shrines festivals stuff on the day 😉

      p/s I assume the rite for Naiku (the inner shrine) will be more crowded as it is the main part of the Ise Shrine.

      Lol, I really should have asked her phone number on the spot shouldn’t i? xD

Leave a Reply