In Japan, it is said that there are more than 200 shinto rituals related to horses. Among them, “Yabusame” (the art of shooting arrows on horseback) and “Ageuma” (the action of leading a horse), which are carried out together man-and-horse as a unit, are a brave shinto ritual with a long history unique to Japan. Moreover, in Mie prefecture “Tado Taisha shrine” and “Inabe Shrine” where these are carried out at the same time, the local residents keep treating the tradition of 800 years carefully.
In the “Oyashiro Matsuri Festival”, a Rei-taisai (regular rites and festivals) held in April, various divine works such as Yabusame, Ageuma etc. are dedicated. Among them, “Ageuma Shinji” designated as an intangible folk cultural asset in Mie prefecture is a traditional event which is 160 years old older than “Tado Taisha shrine” in the neighboring town. It is said that the year of establishment of the Kamakura Shogunate in 1192 began in accordance with the order of Minamoto no Yoritomo.
“Ageuma Shinji” will be held on the first Saturday and Sunday of every April. It is said that it began to dedicate Yabusame Shinji to inspire young people ‘s morale during the Kamakura period. “Ageuma Shinji” is the most exciting part of the traditional “Oyashiro Matsuri Festival” where both “Ageuma” and “Yabusame” shinto rituals are dedicated. Wearing a hanagasa (flower hat), a boy jockey in the form of a warrior manipulates the horse and rushes up the slope at once.
Toin-cho town in Mie Prefecture is the area governed by Mr. Inabe who was a member of the Yamato Imperial Court. “Inabe Shrine” is an ancient temple that is settled in the former Emperor Tenmu. Although it is not clear time to establish, it is said that the shrine that has over 1100 years history and is built on the keyhole-shaped tumuli is unusual nationwide.
“Ageuma Shinji” originally was said to be a festival of Toin-cho town which divines the fortune of the rice cultivation. The power and tension feeling that the human horse has become united deprives the viewer’s heart.
|Name:||Inabe Shrine Ageuma Shinji (Shinto ritual of leading a horse)|
|Address:||Kitaoyashiro 796 Inabegun Toincho, Mie 511-0257 Japan|
|Access:||Sanki-Tetsudo Hokusei-sen “Toin-eki Station” (15 minutes walk)|