Inukko-matsuri

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Inukko-matsuri, Yuzawa, Akita (qՂAHcsj

Inukko (dog) matsuri in Yuzawa originated in the early Edo period when people decorated the entrance and windows of their storehouses and houses with small images of dogs, cranes and tortoises made from rice powder (mochi) as charms to ward off burglars. Nowadays snow dogs are offered in front of snow shrines in prayers for protection against evil and for a rich harvest. In the light of candles and fireworks they glimmer creating an aura of mystery. At the ceremony Shinto priests bless several dogs representing canines from different regions. 
Around the early Edo period some masterless samurai called day-time burglars (hakuto) attacked houses in broad daylight. Their objective was actually killing people rather than stealing money. This violence could not be tolerated and the Lord of Yuzawa fought off bandits. To celebrate peace villagers made dolls out of rice flour in the form of small dogs and displayed them in front of their homes. Children made snow shrines at the gate and played at night until small hours offering dolls, rice cakes, and amazake (a hot sweet drink made of malted rice) on the altar. 



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