Matsuri

A Shinto festival, although the Japanese term can also be used more broadly to refer to any holiday. There are many different kinds of matsuri; in Shinto their focus depends usually on the specific kami, or spirits, to be worshipped as well as the purpose of the festival itself. Celebration is usually neatly divided into two portions; religious rituals followed by a more relaxed public celebration. The rituals include purification ceremonies at the beginning as well as a procession featuring an image of whichever kami is the focus of the festival. Priests and laypeople also give offerings and recite prayers to the kami. The public celebration involves a feast, theatrical or other performances, and sometimes athletic contests. Frequently the kami makes a reappearance during this celebration within a mikoshi, or portable shrine. The frequent and varied matsuri are the most common public manifestation of Shinto faith in Japan. SEE ALSO: Ise shrines; kami; Shinto

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