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Understanding Yamakasa in 10 Key Terms(1/10)

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1. Strictly Forbidden

There are certain things which participants of Yamakasa are forbidden from partaking in. One is the eating of cucumber. Because cut round slices of cucumber resemble the shape and appearance of the sacred symbol of Gion-sama, the patron deity of Yamakasa, those taking part in the festival refrain from eating cucumber during this period. This is called “kyuri-dachi” (abstaining from cucumber). Local schools even completely remove cucumber from the school lunch menu during this period too. Also forbidden during this period: women. From “Oshioi-tori” on the first day, after performing the “misogi” purification ceremony, men are to refrain from sexual interaction with women. This is called “onna-dachi” (abstaining from women). The reason for this being that men who participate in Yamakasa are considered “servants of God” and are to remain pure during this time. Any such interactions with women, who are considered unclean, would violate this.
In addition, there is the “Yamakasa kifuku” rule, which stipulates that people in mourning are not allowed to participate, and also the “Yamakasa Ningyo” rule, which states that decorative dolls and ornaments made for the event must not be portrayals of people or events in the past to which bad or unfortunate things happened. These forbidden rules are upheld so that the event may be carried out safely, and free from incident or harm to everyone involved.

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