Onaorai

September 18th, Tuesday:

  • Cabbage and Ham Soup (Cabbage, Pork, Tomato)
  • Cod Roe Spaghetti (Spaghetti Noodle, Cod Roe, Shrimp, Bell Pepper)
  • Pork Sausage
  • Top Slit Bread
  • Milk
  • Kcal: 763

My school had its school festival this weekend, so in exchange they don’t have any class today. As I didn’t eat school lunch for that reason, I thought I would tell you about the very lovely onaorai I had yesterday at Shibetsu Shrine.

Monday was Keirou no Hi, or Grandparent’s Day, which was a national holiday. There also was a kyudo (Japanese archery) competition at Shibetsu Shrine to celebrate the 80th year anniversary, so that is what I did. It was quite an event. It lasted all day and about 150 archers participated. The location was Shibetsu Shrine, which is set in the beautiful forest covering  Mt. Tsukumo and dedicated to the kamisama (deity) Amaterasu-Omikami. Events began with a short service to the kamisama and included the main 8 arrow competition plus an ema plaque contest and a gold target contest. Anyway, half way through the competition they kindly served lunch to everyone. As you can see in my picture above, there were individual boxes of sekihan (adzuki rice) along with hot ozoni (a soup with mochi, chicken, and vegetables in it), tsukemono pickles, and soba tea. It was really tasty and more than I could finish. When we received the rice, it was wrapped in this paper:

In the center it says “onaorai”. To the right is a poem by the great Shinto theologian Motowori Norinaga, which basically gives thanks to Amaterasu and Toyouke (another deity) for the blessing of food. To the left reads an explanation of what “onaorai” means. It says:

The spirit of the deity fills the food offerings that were raised up to Her. In order to firmly take the holy spirit into ourselves, there is the “onaorai”, where we eat the leftover food and drink together with the deity. Let us receive with a grateful and joyful heart and partake in the bounty of the kamisama.

Eating with the gods is a fairly common part of a Shinto, and I think it is very interesting. In (Orthodox) Christianity, we have of course the Eucharist, in which the holy spirit is called down and then the bread and wine is considered the actually body of Christ. And many Christian churches have a “coffee hour” after the service at which everyone shares just normal food and drink. So it seems to me that onaori is a little like a combination of those. Of course, I am not Japanese, so I could be wrong. Either way, it was very nice.

During lunch, I sat near a kyudo teacher who complimented my correct handling of the soup bowl with chopsticks, but then scolded me for placing them on my rice container as they are in the picture above. They should be placed on the table, using folded paper as a chopstick rest. I was quite happy that he noticed, and was even more excited when we could share a mutual love for the above mentioned Motowori Norinaga.

Last, I wanted to mention the Lion Dance at the school festival was really amazing. Though I couldn’t get any good pictures…

  • キャベツとハムのスープ
  • たらこスパゲッティ
  • ポークウインナー
  • 背割りパン
  • 牛乳
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About Motowori

黄心梅がうまいぞ!

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