Onda Matsuri Festivalおんだ祭 Location: Asukaniimasu-Jinjya Shrine (Asukamura Asuka) Date: First Sunday of February (every year) Onda Matsuri Festival is held on first Sunday of February every year in Asukaniimasu-Jinjya Shrine. "There are four strange sexual ritual festivals in the west of Japan: "Tenteko Matsuri Festival" in Mikawa, "Tagata Matsuri Festival" in Owari, "Amikake Matsuri Festival" in Yamatoettsumi and "Onda Matsuri Festival" in Asuka. "Onda Matsuri Festival" is famous as the strangest sexual ritual festival. This festival was originally called "Otaue Sinji" and is somewhat shrouded in mystery. The people who invented it, and how and when this festival started, are all unknown. This festival has been inherited as a custom by Asuka famers. First, young Asuka farmers wear masks of ""Tengu"" (long-nose goblin) and ""Okina"" (old man) and swing bamboo sticks around to protect people from evil spirits. The festival normally starts with a Japanese drum (Ichiban-daiko), with another Japanese drum (Niban-daiko) follows the first one. This is typical of the festival for harvest. The first part of this festival is the ceremony of rice-planting, seed-planting and rice field works. Then, a third Japanese drum (Sanban-daiko) is played for the climax of the festival. This is the ceremony of great happiness for marriage. A couple who are called "Otafuku" and "Tengu" with unique costumes will dance for love and entertain the visitors. We call this ceremony "Tane tsuke" (mating). After "Tane tsuke",the couple stands up, cleans up with paper from their kimono and distributes this to the visitors. This paper is called as "Fukuno-kami". Only one visitor will fortunately get this paper per year. People believe a superstition that the person who gets the paper will be blessed with a baby if he/she uses it at home. This is the final stage of this old custom. Such sexual ritual festivals were normally practiced only in farm villages in the surrounding mountains. Seen from a folk perspective, it is unique that Asuka - which was a developed society since Jodai - has such a tradition. You will see the sincerity of the local farmers in this tradition for harvest and prosperity as descendants of the original festival.
Tunakake Matsuri Festival綱掛祭 Location: Asukamura village, Inabuchi・Kayamori Date:-- When you go up to the Asuka River, go further southeast 500 meters from the west side of Shimanosho Ishibutai, and then pass through Iwaido, you will arrive at the entrance of Inabuchi Village. Here, there is a straw rope used to cordon off consecrated areas or as a talisman against evil, across the Asukagawa river. It is 1 meter in length with a thickness of 10 cm and a straw festoon attached. This thick straw festoon represent the male organs. In the entrance of Kayamori Village, which is located just 2 km above the Asukagawa River, there is also a straw rope with 50 to 60 cm straw festoon attached. This straw festoon represents the symbol of female organs. This is a pair: the female straw festoon along with the male straw festoon. In Inabuchi, this male straw festoon is called Ozuna. In Kayamori, this female straw festoon is called Mezuna. The orign is still unknown, but this festival is held every New Year's Day. The locals refer to "Tsunakake" for changing the straw festoon and it is usually held on the old New Year's Day of the 11th. This symolizes the first day of work in the field. Thus, the locals go to the rice fields to work and pray for good harvest. How do they make the straw festoons? On the specific day of making the straw festoons, people from Inabuchi Village gather at the Kanjyobashi Bridge and people from Kayamori Village gather at the Ooaza centre of the river. Usually one straw festoon is made by 6 people. The Shinto priest come and stabs a wand with hemp and paper streamers into the male straw festoon. Then, the straw festoon is passed across the river by using the Kanjyo-nawa. This festival starts from 8:00 am and ends around 3:00 pm. The string around the male straw festoon are 12, except during a leap year, when they use 13 strings. Back in the day, people brought the male straw festoon to newly married houses to celebrate. Once the straw rope is set after the Shinto priest praises it, ambrosia is also offered. The offerings of Buddhism are also prepared and arranged at Kanjyobashi Bridge, including 1 sho of white rice (1.8 liters), 1 sho of Japanese sake (1.8 liters) and oranges on bamboo skewers. Except for the bamboo skewer offerings, the Shinto priest throws these offerings into the river. Throwing the offerings into the river means making evil spirits not enter the village by giving these offerings. In the female straw rope, a summer orange in a bamboo skewer is put in. There are Fukuishi of one meter in diameter in the shaded field. The rope is also set in this stone in order to cross the river. In the centre, where the female straw festoon is set, there are Sakaki and wands with hemp and paper streamers set on both sides of the river, with 2.5 meters of string also set. If it is hung up, its shape looks like sacred shrine rope. Wands with hemp and paper streamers are put on the 1 meter Sasatake and stabbed into the female straw festoon. Ambrosia is passed by the 1.5m bamboo with holy Japanese sake and oranges. Next to the passing bar, we add four oranges for each square. Thus, we stab 16 oranges. These oranges were consicrated at the Fukuishi Stone. The oranges are then given to children. At around 4:00 pm, there is a memorial service held by the priest of the Ryufukuji-temple at the Fukuishi stone, which is located across the Asukagawa-river. This is the end of the festival. The most interesting part of this festival is that in the upper stream of the river, the festival is based on Shinto. However, downstream, the festival is based on Buddhism. No doubt that this is one of the main events at the Asukagawa River.
Kangetu-kai 観月会 The original location was an observatory of Amakashi-no-oka. Date: the day of the harvest moon every autumn. This Kangetsu-kai is held for people from Hokkaido to Kyushu wishing to view the full moon at Asuka Village Higashitounomine mountains and enjoy Manyou literature. People enjoy reading the Manyo songs written by Takashi Inukai, an honary professor of Osaka University. Also, people from Asuka no Hibiki History Preservation Community play instruments of national intangible cultural heritage, such as Nigenkin, with the music Goshourakukai no kagaku. You can experience going back in the past times of Asuka 1,300 years ago and feel like the hero of Asuka. This event is held also to deepen the recognition of the importance to protect all the Asuka's cultural heritages.
Hatsuumakai初午会 Location: Okadera-temple (Takaichi Asukamura Village Oka) Date: the first day of the Horse in February or March (old calendar). Many people, men and women, come visit Okadera Temple to ward off evil on the first day of the Horse in February or March (old calendar). In Toyura, the first Horse is called Maezekku and people make Yogomi dango (rice cakes) to distribute to other villages. Family and relatives gather and celebrate with fish such as Kamasugo and Yellowtail. In Kaito, where Inari is worshipped, people celebrate by providing various kinds of food such as deep-fried tofu, mushrooms, dried squid, mountain vegetables, and red rice.
Kugatachi盟神探湯 Location: Amakashi-nimasu Shrine Date: The first Sunday of April Address: Toyoura Asukamura Village The Kugatachi (Trial by Ordeal) Rite is an ancient magical judicial practice. Emperor Ingyo commented that one family branched into too many and it is difficult to know the truth. Thus, he ordered every family to do Kugatachi. The hotpot was placed in Kotonomagatonosaki in Amakashi-no-oka and the person to go on trial makes a vow to the deity, then inserts his hand in boiling water. Although the hotpot was moved to the current location after the moving the capital to Heijyokyo Palace ( and was lost in 810). Today the ordeal is simulated in ritual, with a sprig of bamboo grass used in place of a human hand.