January, 31st to February 1st
The Ogisai Festival is the most prominent Noh theatrical representation of the year. It dates from 806 and is performed by the servants of the Kasuga Shrine in Kushibiki village.
Ogisai 王祇祭 means: "the Festival in honor of the Ogi." The Ogi 王祇 or 扇 is a giant paper fan that represents the terrestrial forces. During the first part of the festival, the fan is kept closed as a phallic symbol representative of the male energy. After the first incantations chanted by the shrines' servants, the servant unfolds the fan to look like female parts, signifying female power. It is kept that way throughout the entirety of the performance. The alliance of the two positions is a representation of the yin-yang harmony. In the early part of the festival, a small child before six years of age comes to recite incantations and repeatedly stomp the ground. The steps of a pure child are thought to awaken the Earthly deities. Then, the Noh theater performances begin and last the following morning.
When participating in the Ogisai festival, you are also invited to eat the ceremonial dinner before the play inside the toya 当屋, the annex to Kasuga Shrine.
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