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usokae exchanging bullfinches


usokae うそ替え exchanging bullfinches

kaemono 替え物 exchanging offerings

The kaemono ritual relates to a Shinto ritual in memory of Michizane
at the Kameido Tenjin shrine in Tokyo 亀戸天神社 and
the Tenmangu shrine in Dazaifu, 太宰府天満宮.
Also at the Shuiyoshi shrine (Sumiyoshi) in Fukuoka. 福岡・住吉神社.
In Oita at the shrine Usa Jingu 宇佐神宮 a dove is exchanged 鳩替神事.

At other shrines, it can be a turtle, an auspicious pearl, a miniature sword, flowers, a little Daruma doll and others.

usokae うそ替え, 鷽替え "exchanging lies of bad luck"
"exchanging the bullfinch"
Bullfinch Exchange Festival

You leave your bad luck from the last year "like a lie" and obtain good luck for the coming year.
This is a play on the sound USO, which means "lie" and "bullfinch".

The practitioners call on each other "Let us exchange it, let us exchange it"!
and pass a wooden bullfinch from hand to hand. There are also some golden bullfinches from the shrine going around.
The bullfinch is also protecting a home from fire (hibuse 火伏せ), when it is put on the shelf for the gods.

In Dazaifu, Kyushu, 大宰府の天満宮
this ritual is also held half-way during the year, on the first of July.

. Tenman-Gu in Dazaifu 大宰府の天満宮
Sugawara Michizane 菅原道真 .

. 若宮八幡宮 Wakamiya Hachimangu ritual of Usokae 鷽替え / ウソ替え .


Yushima Tenjin 湯島天神 Tokyo
Kobayashi Kiyochika 小林清親, 1877.

This is an event held at the shrine dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane (845-903) who is familiarly called Tenjin-sama. Dazaifu Tenmangu is the shrine which was constructed at the very spot where Michizane died. People receive wooden dolls carved in the shape of uso (bullfinch), known as a lucky bird, and pray for good fortune.
The bullfinch is believed to be Tenjin-sama's messenger.
These dolls are also sold at Yushima Tenjin Shrine and Kameido Tenjin Shrine in Tokyo, where long queues form to buy them.

Sugawara no Michizane was a scholar, poet and politician of the Heian Period, and is worshipped as a god of learning in Japan. He was an honest man, never telling lies and some say that the origin of usokae comes from the Japanese word uso meaning "lies," which also corresponds with the name of this bird. Everyone tells lies, whether they intend to or not, and in order to exchange "lies" told in the previous year for "truths," people bring their old wooden uso dolls to be exchanged for new ones.

The people gathering at the shrine greet one another with the words
"Come! Let's exchange!," and exchange the wooden bullfinch dolls they are holding. What they are really looking for among the numerous bullfinch dolls is the golden bullfinch. Anyone who is lucky to get this golden bullfinch is considered to have a happy year ahead. He has to offer ritual ricewine to the others.

As this event coincides with the entrance exam season, an increasing number of students about to sit for their exams has been visiting the shrine in recent years to buy these dolls and make their dream of passing their exams come true.

On the same evening, a fire festival to drive away evil spirits, one of the three largest fire festivals of Japan, is held at the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine. The precincts of the shrine become enveloped in flames and smoke, making it a spectacular sight well worth seeing.
source : www.jnto.go.jp

. . . CLICK here for Photos !


samples from various shrines

Usokae 鷽替 (うそかえ) "exchanging a bullfinch"

January 7, at Dazaifu Tenmangu, Fukuoka
at the hour of the rooster

January 24,25, at Kameido Tenjin Shrine, Tokyo

. WKD : Kigo for the New Year

. . . . . and

Dazaifu Tenmangu no onisube 大宰府天満宮の鬼すべ
smoking out the demon

Evening of Jnauary 7, after the Usokae rituals.
Since the year 986.
A demon which is bound with 48 raw ropes is attacked by a group of people, while another group protect him. Pine torches lit the spooky scene, more than 200 large ones.

Onisube has been deemed an Intangible Folk Cultural Asset by Fukuoka Prefecture, and is also one of the Three Major Fire Festivals in Japan.
Said to have been started by the great-grandchild of Sugawara Michizane, Sugawara Sukemasa, in 986AD, the ritual is also supposedly a means of negating bad luck and preventing fires.

On January 7 of every year, a devil (the symbol of disasters) is driven into a structure on the Temangu Shrine ground called the Onisubedo and then smoked out, figuratively destroying it. Many spectators gather at the the massive burning blaze every year to pray for the year’s happiness.

The highlight of Onisube comes at the end with the Hiwatashi (lighting of the blaze). A fierce battle ensues between the “subete” (who send smoke into the Onisubedo) and the “onikego” (who retaliate from inside the structure by pounding on the walls). Experience the vivid calls of “Oni ja, oni ja!” emanating from about 300 men and the sound of the walls being beaten!
Lighting of the purification fire takes place at around 9pm, signaling the start of the climax.
source : www.crossroadfukuoka.jp


Usokae shinji : Bullfinch-exchanging rite.

A rite held during the night of January seventh at the shrine Dazaifu Tenmangū in Dazaifu City, Fukuoka prefecture. Bullfinches (uso) made of wood are used as charms against fire. People take their bullfinches that are covered with the preceding year's grime to the Tenman shrine, and everyone exchanges bullfinches with anyone else freely, saying "kaemashō, kaemashō " ("Let's trade, let's trade").

During this excitement the shinshoku (shrine priests) lose themselves among the crowd of worshippers and walk about surreptitiously passing out the shrine's twelve bullfinches. Those who get one of the gold bullfinches are said to receive good fortune for the year.
The festival called onisube 鬼燻べ祭 。おにすべまつり, famous for protection from fire, is observed after the bullfinch festival.

Two groups of nearly one hundred people each are divided into the "demon guards" and the "smoke handlers." The latter light a huge mound of fresh pine piled up outside of the shrine hall with sacred fire (or by rubbing two sticks together), and fan the smoke into the shrine with an enormous fan.

On the inside the demon guards beat the slat board walls with wooden mallets. Then, drawn by torches, the smoke-covered demons try to go around the shrine, but the shrine priests throw parched beans at them. People strike the demon masks that the performers wear with staffs called utsue. After going around the outside and inside of the shrine through the smoke and ash the demons come to a stop.

The usokae shinji at the shrine Kameido tenjinsha in Kōtō-ku, Tokyo is said to have been brought from Dazaifu Tenmangū.

On January fifth there is an usokae matsuri also at the shrine Meihama Tenmangū in Fukuoka City, Fukuoka prefecture.
Similar to the bullfinch rites is the hatokaeshi shinji (dove-exchanging rite) at the shrine Usa Jingu in Usa City, Ōita prefecture.

There is a tamakaeshi matsuri (gem-exchanging festival) on January twenty-first in which tama gems are traded at Miyajidake Jinja, Munakata-gun, Fukuoka prefecture.

In addition, there are festivals such as the
okinjo kaeshi matsuri in Hinagu, Ashikita-gun, Kumamoto prefecture, in which dolls are traded, and the
hanakae matsuri
(flower-exchanging festival) at the shrine Kanezakigū in Tsuruga City, Fukui prefecture.
source : Mogi Sakae, Kokugakuin Tokyo

. WKD : Flower Exchange Festival
(hanakae matsuri 花換祭り)

to exchange branches with cherry blossoms


The Bullfinch from shrine Kameido Tenjin
鷽替え 亀戸

Click on the photo for more !

Kameido Tenjin on January 24 亀戸天神社の鷽替え

Kameido Tenmangu 亀戸天満宮, Tokyo
Built in the 1660s and dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane (845-903), who is venerated as the patron saint of scholarship. Students wanting to pass entrance exams come to pray.
Wisteria trellises cover the area, giving it a very special atmosphere, and when they are in bloom in spring, the Fuji Matsuri festival is held here. Also, there are around 200 plum trees, as Michizane is said to have loved plum blossoms, and in February the Ume Matsury festival is held. Here is also a seedling from the sacred plum tree from Daizafu Tenmangu Shrine in Kyushu.
source : Kameido Tenmangu Shrine Tokyo

Yushima Tenjin 湯島天神, Tokyo

Daruma votive tablet from Yushima Tenjin shrine


ema votive tablet
Gojoo Tenjin 五条天神


Toyama no kaemono 富山の替え物 things to exchange
at Toyama

source : www.asahi-net.or.jp

In the Toyama region each shrine has its own little clay dolls for this ritual. The dolls are first offered to the deities and then people can take home one from another person in exchange.
Thus the bad luck is left at the shrine and good luck is taken home.
There is also a little Daruma among the offerings.

. Folk Toys from Toyama .


Kagawa prefecture 香川県 

. Takinomiya Hachiman no uso 滝宮八幡のうそ
bullfinch from Takinomiya Hachiman shrine


Kanagawa prefecture 神奈川県

source : popeye.sakura.ne.jp...

梅枝鷽守り Amulet for Usokae on a plum branch
. Okamura Tenjin Shrine 岡村天神のうそ守り .


. Kumamoto prefecture 熊本県 

Tedori Jinja 手取神社のうそ
carved bullfinch from Tedori shrine

Noboritate Tenmangu no uso 登立天満宮のうそ
carved bullfinch from the Tenmangu shrine


Oita prefecture 大分県 

. Tsunomure jinja no uso 角埋神社 bullfinch from shrine Tsunomure .
the old castle of Tsunomure 角牟礼城跡


鷽鳥御守 From Osaka Tenmangu 大阪天満宮

with the inscription


. . . CLICK here for Photos !

. Reference .


Wooden bullfinches from shrines in Kyushu

Oimatsu 老松神社(おいまつじんじゃ)の木うそ
Fukae 深江神社(ふかえじんじゃ)の木うそ
Suikyoo 水鏡天満宮(すいきょうてんまんぐう)の木うそ
Uemachi 上町天満宮(うえまちてんまんぐう)の木うそ
Noboritate 登立天満宮(のぼりたててんまんぐう)の木うそ
Karatsu 唐津天満宮(からつてんまんぐう)の木うそ
Tetori 手取天満宮(てとりてんまんぐう)の木うそ
Umeyasu 梅安天満宮(うめやすてんまんぐう)の木うそ

source : museum.city.fukuoka.jp


Osaka, Tenmangu Talisman

usokae ya jukensei no o-mamori kana

exchanging bullfinches -
a talisman for the
examination students

Kagawa Masashi
source : 香川雅司


. WKD : Bullfinch, uso 鷽 (うそ) .
kigo for all spring

. Regional Folk Toys from Japan .

. Tohoku after the BIG earthquake March 11, 2011

- #usokae #bullfinch #tenmangu -

1 comment:

Gabi Greve said...

Kameido choo 亀戸町 Kemeido, Kame-Ido "Turtle Well" district