The Festival

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In the small village of Yamaboshi nestled in the hills of Japan, the arrival of spring was marked by a festival that had been celebrated for generations. The festival was a tribute to the gods, presented by the monks who lived in the nearby monastery. It was an event that brought the entire village together, as well as visitors from other towns and cities.

The festival was held at the open shrine in the center of the village, which was surrounded by thousands of spectators. A huge stage had been erected in front of the shrine, and it was on this stage that the main event of the festival took place. The festival was known for its unique tradition of cutting the hair of young girls.

Every year, 50 to 60 18-year-old high school girls were chosen to be sacrifices. These girls had grown their hair long, as per the village rule. It was believed that the longer their hair, the more blessings they would receive from the gods. However, when they reached marriageable age, their hair was cut in a traditional ceremony that was an integral part of the village’s culture.

On the morning of the festival, the girls were given a nice bath at the lake by their mothers, grandmothers, or aunts. They were then dressed in black kimonos and their hair was tied up in a bun. Their hands were tied behind their backs, and they were marched towards the stage where bamboo chairs were placed for them.

The girls sat on the chairs, facing the audience, and waited for the ceremony to begin. The volunteered monks became barbers, and they used a razor to cut the girls’ hair into a bob. The girls were not allowed to look back, and they were not allowed to move. They could only listen to the sound of the razor as their hair fell to the ground.

The festival was a time of great joy for the people of Yamaboshi. It was a time when they came together to celebrate the blessings of the gods, and to honor the traditions of their village. The cutting of the girls’ hair was seen as a symbol of their passage from childhood to adulthood. It was a time when they would leave behind the innocence of their youth, and embrace the responsibilities of adulthood.

However, not everyone in the village was happy with the tradition. There were some who saw it as barbaric and cruel. They argued that the girls should be allowed to keep their hair, and that the tradition was outdated and unnecessary. But their voices were few, and they were quickly drowned out by the joyous sounds of the festival.

As the ceremony progressed, the girls’ hair fell to the ground in a cascade of black silk. There were screams, weeping, and crying for help, but the people of Yamaboshi rejoiced. They believed that the girls were receiving a great blessing from the gods, and that their sacrifice would bring good fortune to the village.

When the ceremony was over, the girls were taken to the lake to wash their hair. They were then allowed to keep a lock of their hair as a memento of the ceremony. The rest of the hair was collected and burned as an offering to the gods.

The festival continued for several days, with various events and performances taking place throughout the village. The monks performed traditional dances, and there were fireworks and lanterns lighting up the night sky. The people of Yamaboshi ate, drank, and danced together, celebrating their traditions and the blessings of the gods.

As the festival drew to a close, the people of Yamaboshi felt a sense of renewal and hope. They had come together to celebrate their culture and traditions, and they had received the blessings of the gods. The cutting of the girls’ hair may have been a painful and difficult tradition, but it was one that they were determined to preserve for future generations.

As the sun began to set on the final day of the festival, the villagers and monks gathered around the open shrine once more. They offered their final prayers and thanks to the gods, and then the monks began to chant a hymn.

The villagers joined in, their voices rising in unison. It was a beautiful sound, one that echoed through the hills and valleys surrounding Yamaboshi.

As the hymn drew to a close, the monks began to bow to the crowd. The villagers returned the gesture, their faces beaming with joy and pride.

The festival may have been over, but the spirit of Yamaboshi would live on. The traditions, the culture, and the deep connection to the gods would continue to be a source of strength and inspiration for the people of the village.

And the sacrifices of the young girls would always be remembered as a symbol of the great faith and devotion that the people of Yamaboshi had in the blessings of the gods.

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