Traditional Pantou event held in Miyakojima with mud smeared on people to drive away bad luck

Traditional <em>Pantou</em> event held in Miyakojima with mud smeared on people to drive away bad luck

In the Taira Shimajiri district of Miyakojima City a pantou smears mud on passersby to drive away bad luck.

October 4, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

A traditional pantou event, in which “gods” covered with mud and grass smear mud on people or things in order to drive away bad luck, was held on October 2 and 3 in the Hirara Shimajiri district of Miyakojima City. In Japan, this traditional event is designated as an important intangible cultural asset.

Every year, Shimajiri pantou “gods” visit the village on a lucky day of the lunar calendar in September. On that day, three pantous cover themselves with grass and mud from the well used for a baby’s first bath (nmariga), before going out into in the village where they first put mud on the patriarch of the village elder’s family called muto.
The three pantou then split up and go their separate ways through the village, daubing mud on residents and visitors alike, as well as objects such as new houses, cars, people young and old without asking people whether or not they want this to happen.

However because it is done to drive away bad luck, most people happily accept having mud smeared on them, but not surprisingly many children simply run away screaming. Some parents even hold out their children to the pantou to have them daubed with mud, but the pantou ignores requests from children and tourists who come up saying, “Please smear mud on me.” The unpredictable movements of the pantou “gods” certainly helped to lift the mood among people that particular night. Shizu Shimajiri, a 79 year-old resident whose new house was visited by the pantou happily said, “Welcome pantou! Come right in and drive away bad luck! I want to stay healthy!”

(English Translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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