Sakaki tree

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. sakaki 榊 と伝説 Legends about the Sakaki tree .

Sakaki tree (sakaki 榊)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Various, see below
***** Category: Plant


sakaki さかき【榊】 sakaki tree, Cleyera japonica

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This is the sacred tree of Japanese Shinto.

. shinboku 神木, shinju 神樹 sacred tree, divine tree .
imiki, imi ki 忌み木 "taboo tree"


- - - - - Inoue Nobutaka writes:
Cleyera japonica, an evergreen tree whose branches are used in Shinto ritual, for example, as offering wands (tamagushi) presented before a kami. When presented as tamagushi, it is usual to attach paper streamers (shide) to the branch. Branches of sakaki are also used for decoration, purification implements, and as hand-held "props" (torimono) in ritual dance. Sakaki may also be affixed to shrine buildings or fences as a means of designating the interior as sacred space.

Theories regarding the etymology of the word sakaki range from those based on the nature of the sakaki as an "evergreen" or "always thriving tree" (sakaeru-ki), and thus point to the sense of prosperity or thriving, to others which derive from the use of the tree as a "border-tree" (sakai-ki) used to demarcate sacred space.

In the "divine age" chapters of Kojiki, the term sakaki appears in the episode of the rites observed to draw Amaterasu out of the heavenly rock cave; the passage states that "they tore from the very roots the flourishing masakaki of the mountain Ame no Kaguyama," festooned it with jewel beads, a mirror, and cloth (nigite). A similar passage is found in Nihongi, which also includes a passage in the record of Emperor Keikō that speaks of the "sakaki of Mount Shitsu," while the record of Emperor Chūai refers to a "flourishing (lit., ‘five-hundred branch') sakaki."

All of these records note that jewels, swords, and mirrors were hung from the branches. The sakaki has been used since ancient times in divine rituals. While the name originally referred to all evergreens, it gradually was limited to those trees of the tea (Theaceae) family. In practice, however, a number of other trees, including oak (kashi), cryptomeria (sugi), boxwood (tsuge), and fir (momi) are sometimes substituted in ritual use.

As the examples of masakaki found in Kojiki and Nihongi suggest, the trees were decorated in a number of different ways: some were adorned with mirrors, jewels, and swords, some with five-colored silks, mirror, jewels and swords, while others were decorated only with five-colored silks. In the Rules for Ritual Procedure at Shrines (Jinja saishiki) implemented in 1875, the term masakaki is used to refer to two poles of Japanese cypress (hinoki), to the tips of which are attached branches of sakaki, and below which are attached five-color silks (blue, yellow, red, white, and purple). The pole on the right (when facing the shrine) is decorated with a mirror and a jewel, and the one on the left with a sword.
source : Kokugaku University. 2005


Sakaki (Cleyera japonica) is a flowering evergreen tree native to warm areas of Japan, Korea and mainland China. It can reach a height of 10 m. The leaves are 6-10 cm long, smooth, oval, leathery, shiny and dark green above, yellowish-green below, with deep furrows for the leaf stem. The bark is dark reddish brown and smooth.
The small, scented, cream-white flowers open in early summer, and are followed later by berries which start red and turn black when ripe. Sakaki is one of the common trees in the second layer of the evergreen oak forests.

Sakaki wood is used for making utensils (especially combs), building materials, and fuel. It is commonly planted in gardens, parks, and shrines.

The Japanese word sakaki is written 榊 with a kanji character that combines ki 木 "tree; wood" and kami 神 "spirit; god", depicting "sacred tree; divine tree".

Sakaki is considered a sacred tree in the Shinto religion along with other evergreens such as hinoki 檜 "Japanese cypress" and kansugi 神杉 "sacred cryptomeria". In Shinto ritual offerings to the kami 神 "gods; spirits", branches of sakaki are decorated with (shide) paper streamers to make tamagushi. ...
Sakaki 榊 first appears in the (12th century) Konjaku Monogatarishū, but two 8th-century transcriptions are 賢木 "sage tree" (Kojiki, tr. Chamberlain 1981:64 "pulling up by pulling its roots a true cleyera japonica with five hundred [branches] from the Heavenly Mount Kagu") and 坂木 "slope tree"...
... The etymology of sakaki 榊 is uncertain.
With linguistic consensus that the -ki suffix denotes 木 "tree", the two most probable etymologies are either sakae-ki "evergreen tree" (from sakae 栄え "flourishing; luxuriant; prosperous") or sakai-ki "boundary tree" (from sakai 境 "boundary; border"). Carr (1995:13) cites Japanese tradition and historical phonology to support the latter etymon.
[In reconstructed Old Japanese, sakaki < sakakī and sakai "boundary" were "monograde" (一段) while sakae "flourishing" was "bigrade" (二段). © More in the WIKIPEDIA !

tamagushi 玉串 offering of a sacred branch


observance kigo for late spring

sakaki giri, sakakigiri 榊伐(さかきぎり) cutting sakaki

During the San-O Festival

Sannoo matsuri 山王祭 (さんのうまつり) Sanno Festival
Hiyoshi matsuri 日吉祭(ひよしまつり) Hiyoshi festival

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plant kigo for late spring

hisakaki no hana 柃の花 (ひさかきのはな)
hisakaki blossoms
nocha 野茶(のちゃ)"wild tea"
Eurya japonica Thunb
used in place of sakaki for Shinto offerings


plant kigo for mid-summer

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sakaki no hana 榊の花 (さかきのはな)
sakaki blossoms
..... hana sakaki 花榊(はなさかき)


observance kigo for mid-winter

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sakaki oni 榊鬼(さかきおに) Sakaki demon

during a kagura performance at the Mikawa Matsuri

Sakaki Oni, one of the demon, dances the, "Henbai 返閇 / 反閉 / 返閉 /反陪" moves and stomps on the ground to invoke a good and plentiful harvest of the five main crops, safe homes, and good health.
He is infusing the earth with renewed life and vitality.
The Sakaki Oni is also known for answering questions.

Yamami Oni performs a dynamic movement of splitting the large iron pot as if the pot was a mountain being split into two pieces.

The Mokichi Oni (Asa Oni) hits and brings down a beehive by using his beetle. The bee hive is a mesh shaped bag made with different (five) coloured papers. The paper bag is hung above the iron pot by the hosts of the festivals and the host puts many coins into the beehive. When Mokichi Oni hits the beehive, people rush it and snap up the coins because they believe the coins will bring them happiness.

The Hana Matsuri festivals are held in Shimotsuki (November of the lunar calendar). Fukawa's Hana Matsuri is held a on the first Saturday and Sunday of March. It is much warmer than the other Hana Matsuri events. This marks the beginning of the Spring season.
source : pref.aichi.jp/global/en

. Kagura Dance in Japan .

hanamatsuri, hana matsuri 花祭 (はなまつり)
flower festival

Mikawa hanamatsuri 三河花祭(みかわはなまつり)
hana kagura 花神楽(はなかぐら)flower kagura
sakaki oni 榊鬼(さかきおに)Sakaki demon

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

. Kamo Mikate Matsuri 賀茂御蔭祭
"honorable shadow festival"

. Sakaki and the Kasuga Shrine Mandala  


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hoshi itete chi o utsu mai no sakaki oni

the stars are cold -
the Sakaki demon dances
and stomps the ground

橋本榮治 Hashimoto Eiji (1953 - )





. sakaki 榊 と伝説 Legends about the Sakaki tree .

- #sakaki -




Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...


大島郡 Oshima gun 竜郷村 Tatsugo

Once upon a time

a 継子 stepchild was asked to go and break a branch of the ritual Sakaki tree, but it did not know what kind of tree that was and broke a branch from the wrong tree. His stepfather got very angry and scolded him so much, in the end, the poor child committed suicide.

And this child later became the Yamawaro.
Yamawaro Legends

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

. mokichi no men 茂吉の面 /茂吉面 the mask of Mokichi .
and more demon masks
oni no men 鬼の面 伝説 Oni Legends about demon masks
kimen 鬼面

Gabi Greve said...

Legend about tamagushi 玉串 branch offerings
Hiroshima 神石郡 Jinseki district 神石高原町 Kogencho town // 石神さん
A 伊勢参りの旅人 pilgrim to the Ise Shrine forgot a package on iwa 岩 a rock, but the villagers found it. First then wanted to throw it away but the next day they put it back in the rock. This went on for a few days and eventually they opened it.
Inside were tamagushi 玉串 branch offerings. The villagers placed them on the rock and venerated them as shintai 神体 the Body of Kami.
Later a stone mason wanted to split the rock, but red blood came out of it.
The stone had originally been the size of a bed, but now it begun to grow more and more into the sky.

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