Although being splashed by boiling water may not sound like a great thing to have happen to you, at the Yutate Kagura at Jōnangū in southern Kyoto it would make you quite lucky indeed. This ritual was once used for divination purposes, then purification, and in the present day it is primarily a way to pray for good health.
In order to prepare for the main event, sacred spring water is brought to a boil in the courtyard in front of the prayer hall, and a senior priestess of the shrine approaches. After stirring in sake, rice, and salt as offerings to the deities, the priestess takes hold of two long, leafy bamboo branches. Dipping the bamboo into the water, she then makes large, dramatic movements with her arms in order to scatter the water onto the waiting onlookers hoping to receive the blessing, creating an amazing picture as the bamboo slashes through the rising steam from the boiling pot.
Though the boiling water ritual is the highlight of the event, there are several other things to watch and enjoy before and after as well. Before the main ritual is performed there are blessings and offerings presented to the gods as well as a sacred kagura dance used to purify the bamboo and consecrate it.
Once the rituals ends the bamboo is made available to those who are interested in gaining some luck, as it’s said to bring good fortune to any home where it’s displayed.
Things to See/Do