國學院大學
國學院大學デジタルミュージアム

Encyclopedia of Shinto

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カテゴリー1 5. Rites and Festivals
カテゴリー2 Rituals in Okinawa and Amami
Title
Text The name for the other world across the sea (or, on the seabed) where the deities dwell, and from where they bring both good fortune and catastrophe to the human world. Belief in this realm is found in the southwestern islands stretching from Amami to Okinawa. In most places, this realm is believed to lie to the east, but there are a number of regional differences regarding its location and the name by which it is known (e.g., niruya-kanaya). The ni of nirai means "root" (ne in standard Japanese) and signifies that it is the source of all things in this world. Tradition holds that fire and rice originated in the other world. However, it is also believed to be the source of evil things, such as rice and insects harmful to crops, and there are festivals for driving these things back to that realm. This view of the other world (takaikan) provides the foundations for the belief that kami visit from that realm at the time of such festivals as the Izaihō and other rituals on Kudaka Island, the Unjami festival of northern Okinawa Island, and the Akamata-Kuromata and Mayunganashi festivals of the Yaeyama islands. Nirai-kanai is also the place where the spirits of the dead go. For instance, the spirits of female lay ritualists (Jp. kamionna, Okinawan nanchu) on Kudaka Island are said to go there after death.
— Hatakeyama Atsushi
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Nirai-kanai