19.The Toningyoretsu at Ako Hachiman Shrine’s Shinko Ceremony
The Shinko Ceremony is performed at a festival at Ako Hachiman Shrine and currently occurs on the first Sunday after the fifteenth of October. During the ceremony, a toningyoretsu (a traditional procession centered around the tonin, a young boy who symbolizes a boy from a Japanese myth), a lion dance, a mikoshi (a small portable shrine), and floats depart in succession, traveling from the shrine to the location where the mikoshi is temporarily placed, and then returning to the shrine. The existence of the toningyoretsu has been confirmed in records dating back to Kanbun 1 (1661). Though the toningyoretsu has changed with each generation, the roles played during the procession have been preserved from at least the recent past up to the present and are the following: the naginatamochi (a person carrying a pole sword), the sairyo (the organizers of the procession), the tonin, the toninkatsugi (the person who carries the tonin on his shoulders), the daigasamochi (a person carrying a pole with a bamboo hat wrapped in fabric on the end), the toya (the relatives of the tonin), the koshokatsugi (a person carrying a wooden seat), the ugiyokasamochi (a person who carries a large, long umbrella held over the tonin), the chabentomochi (a person who carries a box containing tea ceremony utensils and food), and the dorankagomochi (a person who carries a pole with two large baskets over his shoulders). Formerly, in Osakimura, the tonin was chosen by lottery from among the wealthy families of men such as salt farm managers, and the procession was the focus of public attention. In Heisei 23 (2011), the toningyoretsu became an Intangible Cultural Property of Ako City.