Lifestyles and Traditions - Shrines
Ōyama Shrine is known as the venue of the Fuse Mountain Festival. According to the records, Ōyamatsumi has been enshrined here since mid-Edo Period, and the festival was already held in the early Edo Period. However, it is believed that the festival has a much longer history. This shrine does not have any shrine buildings, but there is an object of worship; a Japanese cedar tree which is about 600 years old.
Fuse Mountain Festival is held over two days on the first Saturday and Sunday of April (in the past it was held on the first Day of the Rat and the next Day of the Ox). However, if April 1 falls on a Sunday, the festival will also be held on March 31. In the past, it was held on the first Day of the Ox in the second month of the lunar calendar.
The first day of the festival is called Obitachi. 15 - 30 young men from the area will become Obitachi, and go into the woods to collect some vines (actinidia arguta) that are used to wrap around the sacred tree. In addition, a sakaki tree (cleyera japonica), which is used as a yorishiro (an object or physical space where deities temporarily occupy) is cut down. The sakaki tree, serving as the matsuri yado (the festival accommodation for the deity), and two crossbars are then tied together with ropes, to form the shape of a spinning top. At the same time, on the way back to Kasuga Shrine, a purification ceremony called Sakaki-makuri is held in various locations in the area. After the sakaki tree arrives at the shrine, it is placed inside the shrine grounds until the next spring, to indicate that it is the dwelling of the deity.
On the second day, the vines are wrapped around the sacred tree, and the ritual is called Obi-jime because it looks like an obi belt worn with a kimono. The young man who collected the vines the day before now become the Obi-jime-bito and after dancing -swaying the vine "obi belt" vigorously- to the song sung, the vine is then wrapped around the sacred tree 7.5 times. Fuse area, where paddy cultivation was hardly practiced, had to rely on the makihata pastures cultivated in the deep forests to grow all the crops such as barley, buckwheat and millet. The Dragon King, the spirit of water that is most necessary for farming, and as a yōhaisho worship place for Mt. Mani, the seat of the Guardian of Oki Province, the spirit of the deity of Ōyama is invited to reside in the Japanese cedar tree in Minaminotani, so as to protect the village from fire and pray for prosperity and good harvests. Before the Meiji Period, the ceremony was performed by Yamabushi (mountain ascetic monks) of the highest rank who moved to the village.