“Pantu Festival” is an event to get rid of evil spirits that is taking place in Miyakojima, Okinawa Prefecture. It is an unusual rare festival in other parts of Japan and has also been designated as important intangible folk cultural asset. The Pantu Festival is held in two districts of Hirarashimajiri and Uenonobaru of Miyakojima. Each type has a different format, but the one famous in particular is the Hirarashimajiri district.
The Pantu Festival in the Hirarashimajiri district is officially called “Pantu Punaha” and it is held every year in early September lunar calendar. Three young people from the district are chosen as “Pantu”, wearing a mask and wearing a vine plant called Derris trifoliata, and further painting the whole body with mud. This mud seems to be sacred mud which is collected from a special spring called “Nmariga”. During the festival, three such strange rituals “Pantu” walk through the town.
“Pantu” seems to mean ogre, phantom, etc. in the dialect of Miyakojima. However, in “Pantu Festival”, Pantu is regarded as a god of exorcism, praying for the disease-free suffering of people by painting mud.
Although it is “god of exorcism”, its appearance is so terrible that everyone who met Pantu desperately runs away. In other words, “tag game” by Pantu and the islanders is spreading.
When Pantu finds a person, it attacks vigorously to paint mud. When you are caught up in Pantu, all clothes and face are muddy. Pantu attacks women and children mercilessly, and even makes cars rush. However, this is sacred mud, so it gets dirty it is the price of an escape from a greater evil.
In recent years, it seems that tourists who do not understand the contents of the event well are painted with mud, which may cause problems. In the Pantu Festival, both locals and tourists are mercilessly muddy, so let’s participate in preparation for being dirty. It is important to understand that it is not a mere event but a traditional shinto ritual.
Among the islands in Okinawa, there are strange festivals held in the Shimajiri area in the northern part of the Miyakojima Island, where the sea is said to be beautiful in particular. It is “Pantu Festival” which is designated as an important intangible folk cultural property of the country.
Pantu who is unforgivable paints mud which gives a strange smell to the escaped people. However, while screaming, people seem to be enjoying somewhere.
The official name is “Pantu Punaha”, in the dialect of Miyako, Pantu means “demon and phantom”, Punaha means “festival of prayer for evil spirit”. Origin of this festival, the hundred and several decades ago, a mask enveloped by the livistona leaves arrived at the shore of the Shimajiri district, a young man wearing the mask applied the whole body of sacred well mud and became God, It seems to be the legend.
Time passed, God became “Shimajiri no Pantu” of evil exorcism. Pantu wears sacred mud throughout the body once a year, mercilessly paints the grateful mud to people, exorcises evil spirits, and wishes for a state of perfect health. The ceremony is “Pantu Festival” which is a traditional event handed down to Shimajiri district.
Pantu, 3 bodies in all, strong young men in the village becomes God. And they will wear the mud of the sacred spring “Nmariga” whole body and start attacking people. It is said that “Nmariga” is in a colony and the water of this well was always once used as a newborn baby’s first bath at the time of childbirth.
Pantu’s muddy target not only people and homes, but also cars are bathed in mud baptism. Rent-a-car is not an exception, it gets sticky and stinky mud. There is no forgiveness just because it is a tourist. But that is the real pleasure of the festival and it is the benefit of “Exorcism”. If you are going to participate in the Pantu Festival, prepare to be muddy and take measures against clothes and cameras.
|Address:||Hirarashimajiri Miyakojima, Okinawa 906-0003 Japan|
|Access:||25 minutes from Miyako Airport by car.|
|Tel:||(+81) 980-73-1881 (Miyakojima Island Tourism Association)|