From Abeno Seimei and Onmyodo

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.

8 thoughts on “From Abeno Seimei and Onmyodo”

  1. Uh… okay…

    Anyways, Seimei Jinja, an _onmyodo_ shrine is just round the corner from where I live in Kyoto. I believe it is the only _onmyodo_ shrine in Japan. Quite a fall from the 6th C when it was the state religion and there was even a “Department of Astrology” in the government. They have a “slammin’ website”: , probably due to all the publicity from the Onmoji series.

    I have one of the “signature pentagram”: good luck charms on my bike. This pentagram very much recognized as a “Kyoto” thing. I have pics from a local football match where “Kyoto Sanga”: fans were waving massive purple flags with pentagrams on them. Pretty cool…

  2. I’ve been to Seimei Jinja actually, right across from Modoribashi. Actually, the ministery of onmyodo known as the Onmyoryo survived as part of the palace for centuries, but like the rest of the Imperial establishment became more or less powerless under the bakufu.

    There’s actually a few shrines dedicated to Abeno Seimei throughout Japan. Seimei Jinja, built on the location of his former mansion, is of course the main one, but I also know of an Abeno Seimei Jinja in Abeno ward in Osaka, which I think is built on the area where he was born and/or grew up.

    You can see the pentagram all over Kyoto, even on the city buses, I’ll post some photos later. I have a pentagram charm on my mp3 player. Could you send me the photo of the flags from the football match?

  3. i have always want to be an onmyoji someday because i want to have my own shikigami

  4. Hello, I have never been to Japan but I want to some day. My husband is there right now and sent me a pic of a pentagram. I was wondering if any one could give me some info on what they are all about?


Comments are closed.