- (also Kasuga taisai, grand rite of Kasuga) The annual spring festival of the Kasuga taisha in Nara, celebrated since the eighth century and currently held on March 13. In early times the rite included the arrival of a 'sacral woman' (saijo) from Kyoto, while the offerings were made on behalf of the priests by a young girl of 'abstention and purity' (mono-imi). Although these women no longer feature in the ritual it is otherwise performed in accordance with accounts dating from the 9th century. As part of the ritual, horses are led (hiki-uma) round the shrine and there is a performance of yamato-mai dance. The shinsen (food offerings) include beautiful arrangements of rice, sake, mochi, fish, chicken and fruit. The matsuri is entitled to receive a visit from an imperial messenger (chokushi).
A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Brian Bocking.