The Yomiuri newspaper has a short article on an interesting religious ceremony conducted at the ancient Kamigamo Shinto shrine in Kyoto. I’ve translated it below and due to the obscurity of the material included some additional notes.
From Abeno Seimei and Onmyodo
At the Kurabeuma horse race which has been conducted at the Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto for 910 years, the Norijiri(riders) conduct certain rituals before the race. The ceremonies of self-harai(ritual Shinto purification) by onymyokuji(yin-yang divination by lots) and harai by onmyo-daiyuudai (some kind of obscure onmyodo ceremony) are known as the norikiji houhei [houhei are the hemp rope and folded paper decorations seen at Shinto shrines). In the houhei ceremony the norijiri waves the houhei and offers a prayer to the kami (gods) by taking a special step. Reseachers on religious ceremony have concluded that these rituals include rites that can be traced back to onmyodo harai..
For those who can read Japanese, more information on the Kurabeuma is avaliable here.
Onmyodo: Literally ‘the way of yin and yang.’ An ancient form of Japanese magical practice, combining imported Taoist philosophy and practices (such as ying and yang and the 5 elements) with native Japanese Shinto beliefs and rituals. Practicioners of onmyodo were known as Onmyoji.
Abeno Seimei: The most famous of all Onmyoji. There is a popular novel and manga series by the author Baku Yumemakura, which has not been translated into English. There is however a film version and sequel, which you can get as a package here. The budget may not approach Lord of the Rings, but they are recommended for anyone who wants to see what Heian era Japan actually looked like.
Kami-gamo Shrine: One of the oldest shrines in Kyoto, it actually existed long before the city was built. Named after the Kamo clan that ruled the area before the Imperial family moved the capital, Kami-gamo (upper Kamo) and Shimo-gamo (lower Kamo) shrines are a pair. The Kamo river which flows past downtown Kyoto also takes its name from this source. In Heian times, the Abe and Kamo family’s were the two preeminent onmyoji families.