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Tamaseseri (gem hunting)

Hakozakigu Hachiman shrine, Fukuoka

Tamaseseri is a lively New Year's festival and a traditional form of fortune-telling. Two teams of men clad in loin-cloth struggle to get hold of a wooden gem of about 30cm in diameter. The teams represent the sea and the land respectively. If the sea team wins, a big catch of fish will be promised, and if the land team wins, a good harvest will be expected during the year.

At first, two wooden gems, male and female are ritually cleansed. At noon they are transferred to Tamatori Ebisu shrine, where young men wait anxiously. A priest takes the male gem and tosses it toward the youths, who run about and wrestle with each other to retrieve it. All the while water is poured on the jostling crowd. The winning team must return the gem representing masculinity to the priest. A companion gem of femininity waits at the main hall of Hakozakigu Hachiman shrine for her male spouse.








































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