History & Culture

Aomori’s history of pandemic through prayers 祈りに見る青森の疫病退散の歴史

青森県立郷土館で、疫病退散を願った青森の人々が、受け継いできた儀礼や習慣を紹介する企画展を催している。
開催期間:2020年7月20日(月)~8月23日(日)

At the Aomori Prefectural Museum, an exhibition held to introduce the rituals and customs that have been passed down by citizens of Aomori who wish for recovery from the pandemic. Event period: 2020 July 20th (Monday) to August 23rd (Sunday)

今、私達は、新型コロナウィルスの対応に追われている。

疫病との戦いは、古来幾度となく繰り返され、甚大な被害と悲しみをもたらした。青森県でも医療技術が発展していなかった時代には、疫病退散には祈願や呪術を使って逃れようとした。その中で、人形送りや百万遍、ねぶた・ねぷたなどが現代まで引き継がれてきた。様々なものが展示されている。

Currently all of us are in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
The battle against disease has been repeating since in ancient time. Causing severe damage and sadness throughout the world.

In the era before medical technologies were discovered in Aomori prefecture, methods such as prayers and witchcraft were applied to get rid of diseases. Among those methods there are  straw doll feeding,
Hyakumanben (praying a million times), Nebuta・Neputa, etc have been handed down to the present day.

Various items are exhibited.

子供用の担ぎねぷたには、疱瘡の絵が描かれ、横に「疫病退散」の文字が書かれ、町を巡った後、川に流された。 (写真)

On the children’s carrying neputa, a picture of pemphigus was drawn and the word ” ward off pestilence ” was written next to it. After carrying it around the town, it was washed away in the river. (Photo)

絵馬に描かれた様々な絵も疫病退散を願ったもの。絵馬は人々の祈りや願いを書く木製の額。タコの絵馬は、イボや腫物を治すための祈願。(写真)

Various pictures drawn on the Ema also hoped for the disappearance of the diseases. Ema are wooden plaques that people write their prayers or wishes on.

The octopus’s votive tablet is a prayer to cure warts and tumours. (Photo)

赤い色のおもちゃは、疱瘡(天然痘)を避けるためのお守り。(写真)

Red toys are amulets to avoid smallpox. (Photo)

複数の人が輪になって念仏を唱えて回すと災いが止むという百万篇(ひゃくまんぺん)で使う数珠。(写真)1080の玉の大きな数珠を100回まわす行事。1080×100で百八万遍念仏を唱えたことになる。

珠珠は仏教の数珠。 それは1080の世界的な罪を表す1080のビーズを持っている。 彼らが祈りを唱えるとき、人々はそれを手に持つ。

Juzu used in Hyakumanben (praying a million times) is said that people gather and pray together will stop the ongoing disaster.Juzu is a Buddhism rosary. It has 108 beads .

An event in which a large bead of 1080 balls is rotated 100 times. It means that the 1800 Buddhist memorial Buddha was chanted.

大きな藁人形は、男女一対の人形。かついで村々を回り、山に捨ててくるというもの。「人形送り」という行事に使われる。場所は上北郡七戸町。青森県立郷土館が昭和57年に撮影した映像が残っている。

The large straw doll is a pair of men and women. After walking it through town it is thrown and leave within the mountains.
It is used for an event called “doll feeding”.

There is an event known as “doll feeding”. This is located in Shichinohe-cho, Kamikita-gun. There are recordings left by Aomori Prefectural local hall from 1982.

Below is a description of the DVD. DVD説明 (青森県立郷土館所有 Owned by Aomori Prefectural Folk Museum)

神社での祈願に始まり。人形は、村人みんなで製作し、顔は紙に書き、緑の草で髪の毛を付ける。
出来上がった人形を担ぎ、家々を回る。
住民は、人形にお供えする「おにぎり」を笹の葉で包んだものを用意して待つ。
家に来た人形にそのお供えを結び付け、手を合わせて拝む。その後、人形の股をくぐり厄を払う。
全戸を回った後、山に人形を置き、後ろを振り返らずに、みんな、一目散に逃げ帰る。

People have prayed at Shinto shrines.
Dolls are made by the villagers. Face if the dolls are drawn on a piece of paper and green grass attach to the head as hair.
The completed dolls will be carrying around the town or village.
People prepare “Onigiri” rice wrap in bamboo leaves as they wait for the arrival of the dolls for the offering purpose.

The offering will be tie to the doll that came to your house and people will put their hands together to worship it. After that, they will go through the bottom of the dolls to get rid of misfortunes.

After visiting the all the houses in the village or town, the dolls will be left in the mountains and they were running for their lives without a backward glance .

疫病に対抗する術を持たなかった先人たちは、祈りや、魔よけに頼って、何とか災いから逃れようとしてきた。医療技術が発達した現代でも、今回の新型コロナウィルスは、人々の脅威となっている。いつの時代も、未知の物には、恐怖が伴う。

Ancestors who did not have the capability to fight diseases resorted to prayers and amulets, trying to escape that current circumstances. Even though in this modern era where humans created medical technologies yet coronavirus is still a big threat to people all around the world. Unknown things or matter brings fear no matter what era it is.

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