9/9 of the Chinese lunar calendar is an important date for the Naon community in Yamato Village, Amami Oshima. This year, 9/9 fell on Tuesday, October 4th of the Gregorian calendar, which led to many communities having their festivities the Saturday before. However, Naon, the only community in Yamato Village that still has a Noro priestess, made certain to pay their respects on the actual day of Honensai. This festival is both to give thanks for the past year and to pray for a bountiful upcoming year.
The Honensai festival has two parts, one on 8/15 and one on 9/9 of the lunar calendar. The ‘kugatsu kunchi,’ 9/9, festival involves the Noro priestess and Guji, protector of the shrine, leading a ritual from the Ryukyuan shrine, called a ‘tera,’ to the sumo ring. Usually, there would be sumo matches; however, this year, they finished the ceremony in the community center and topped everything off with some traditional dancing.
Please keep an eye out for further information in an upcoming article about spiritual life in the Naon community.