• Shona McCarthy

Shout At Monster Priests: Akutai Cursing Festival

(From Unsplash.)

A lot of people are used to the idea that Japanese people are quiet and innocent. But every year around this time, there is a very strange festival that might shake up that image.

Every year, in Kasama, Ibaraki Prefecture there is a festival called the "Akutai Cursing Festival". Essentially, it involves hurling profanities at shinto priests as they make their way from Atago Shrine to smaller shrines around Atago Mountain and back to Atago Shrine. The priests will often wear masks as they go, to make themselves look like Tengu monsters. The festival is said to have originated in the Edo Period as a way of scaring off demons and letting out stress. Participants are allowed to say anything they want to say, as loud as they want to say it. Personally, I don't think I'll go and do it since I find unkindness so upsetting. But I can imagine many would find it fun and amusing. Even children participate. For those who would like to attend virtually, here are some videos of the festival!

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