approx. 10 hour program
January 14, annually
Whilst rituals of ‘Hadaka-mairi’ (naked pilgrimage) are held across northern Japan during the cold winter months, the Hadaka-mairi of Sendai City is unique in its origins and story. Discover the spiritual culture of Sendai by learning more about the traditions and roots of this ritual before participating alongside the descendants of those who began the tradition and who proudly carry on its legacy today.
The roots of Sendai’s Hadaka-mairi lie in the local sake-brewing culture. To this day, each element of the ritual is connected with the hard labor of sake brewers as they work through the harsh cold of winter. In a nod to the traditional garments of sake brewers, pilgrims typically don a white ‘hachimaki’ headband, white loincloth and hold a folded piece of paper called ‘fukumigami’ in their mouths for concentration as they make their way to shrine, ringing a hand-bell with their right-hand as they hold a lantern with their left. The sight of thousands of pilgrims walking through the streets towards Osaki Hachiman Shrine on January 14th is one of the hallmarks of winter in Sendai City.
This experience begins at the origins of the ritual, with a visit to the sake brewery where it all began before a local lunch paired with sake. Following lunch, you can choose from two programs: participation in the Hadaka-mairi ritual, or assisting with the preparation for the ritual and making a visit to the shrine and festival stalls.
Meet at Sendai Station. Transfer to Moritami-Shuzo sake brewery by private taxi.
Take a tour of the brewery and learn more about the origins of Sendai’s Hadaka-mairi.
Enjoy a lunch of local food paired with local sake.
Listen to a briefing from the head of the ‘Sendai Hadaka-mairi conservation committee’ who you will join in participating.
Take a break or watch/join the committee members practice walking and ringing the hand bells in unison.
Option A: Pilgrim support team / Observation
Assist with preparation of ritual garments, fukumigami and lanterns etc.
Watch the pilgrims participate in pre-ritual ceremonies (purification etc.)
Walk alongside pilgrims to Osaki Hachiman Shrine.
Make a visit to the shrine and experience the atmosphere of the festival, including festival stalls as you watch the parade of pilgrims.
Walk back with group and assist in post-ritual clean-up etc.
Option B: Full participation in ritual
Participate in pre-ritual practice.
Change into ritual garments and experience purification ceremony.
Participate in pilgrimage to Osaki Hachiman Shrine.
Receive blessing at Osaki Hachiman Shrine.
Return and assist with post-ritual clean-up.
Enjoy a delicious dinner at Sendai Metropolitan Hotel ((choose from Japanese or Western style), or join a bar-hopping tour of local izakaya and bars.