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The Boiling Water Ritual

Shinto Priest
Shrine Maiden
All the actors of the Dai Nembutsu Troupe (devotees)

Mibu-dera Temple's local shrine is a branch of Miwa Shrine in Nara Prefecture. The play enacts a Shinto rite to ensure a peaceful life for the people and safety for the coming year. The Shinto Hot Water Rite is rarely preformed in Buddhist temples. It is only done once a year at the end of the Spring performances. The chant “Myounen no, Myounen no,” means “next year's, next year's.”

The Devotees place a caldron in front of a Shinto altar. They fill the caldron chanting “Myounen no, Myounen no,” and bring the water to a boil. The Shinto priest and Shrine Maiden enter. The priest prays, dips bamboo leaves in the boiling water and splashes them around the stage. This is the purification ritual. The Devotees play flutes and the Shrine Maiden makes music with a “jyanbon” bowl. The priest and Maiden are thanked and depart at the end of the ritual. With the remaining hot water the devotees wipe their faces, clean the kettle and again chant “Myounen no, Myounen no,” as they exit.