Praying for prosperity in Yona, Kunigami, Unjami solemnly welcomes the gods

Praying for prosperity in Yona, Kunigami, Unjami solemnly welcomes the gods

Kaminchu facing the ocean and praying before the winter-melon boar being offered to the gods.


September 24, 2017 by Ryukyu Shimpo


Kunigami – The Unjami festival, one of Japan’s Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties, was held in Yona, Kunigami (Tadanobu Miyagi, Mayor), where there were prayers for bountiful harvest and good health. The festival is held each year on the day of the bull of the lunar Bon Festival.


On the day of the festival, two kaminchu wait inside the temple.

Then, around 4:00 p.m., after preparations have been made, they lead a procession down to Asagima, where the kaminchu lead prayer, and starting with Mayor Miyagi, serve ceremonial sake and give blessings to representatives from each of the village households.


The ceremony begins on the eastern edge of the village with a prayer while facing the mountains to the east at Unkoi gate, where they greet the gods.

Then, they strike the sand-covered ground with a bow, chanting “Unkoi, Unkoi” three times to wake the sleeping god, before spinning counter-clockwise seven times.


Upon returning to Asagima, three ceremonies are performed: “Boat Rowing,” “Boar Hunting,” and “Fishing.

” This year, Yasushi Kamiyama, 25, was in charge of the boar hunt, which involves shooting a boar made from a winter melon with a bow.

Same as previous years, the area children got to try this as well as the boat rowing and the fishing, led by Yushi Miyagi, 28, and Toshiki Tsuha, 20.


After the ceremony at Asagima, following the signal drum, the children carrying their slain boars, the kaminchu, and the other participants proceed down to Yona Beach for the “Nagashi” ceremony.

Along the way, the procession stops at an alley, where the drummer shouts a long call, to which the participants respond with, “Yo-sare,” which is repeated nine times on the way down to the beach, showing the gods the way.


At the beach, they pray while facing out over the East China Sea.

The festival ends with the children offering the boars they have carried down to the gods, sending them out into the current of the sea.


(English translationg by T&CT and Sam Grieb)


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