When I researched for soundscape in Fukuoka, I made time to visit Kushida temple. This Shinto temple is believed has stood since 757 AD and until now is still used as Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival’s center place of event that usually occurs on 1-5 of July each year. I visited this temple on Thursday, May 13th 2019.
That day, the atmosphere around Kushida temple was quiet calm. Not too many visitors came. Might have something to do with the fact that golden week holiday this year went for 10 days together with the renewing of Japanese emperor which was done. Only a few visitors came to pray.
I spent this afternoon in Kushida temple. Coincidentally, there was a prayer lead by a Shinto priest. The prayer was followed by a group of people. Some of them seems like relatives. The priest wore a purple cape, which in Shinto’s tradition means he is a gūji or gon-gūji, the highest faith. A more junior priest, negi usually wears blue clothing. Other than that, the priest wore kanmuri, a headdress, a characteristic of a Shinto priest. During one of the prayer procession, the priest stepped towards the taiko instrument and started to beat the instrument in a unique rhythm before ending with a right beat, the tempo went faster, and then slows until it stops.
Taiko, the traditional instrument is often seen in Shinto temples and is a main part of the ritual procession. Some believe that in the past, the Japanese could feel the strength of their Gods from the taiko’s sound. Other than that, taiko also acts an instrument of holiness. It is interesting to contemplate the relation between the sound of taiko this day and the long historical tradition of Shinto in Japan.