Ushi-matsuri

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Ushi Festival, Koryuji Temple, Kyoto
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Ushi (Ox) festival is a Buddhist festival at the Koryuji temple in Kyoto. The Matarajin deity (
_) dressed in white appears from darkness riding on a black ox. He climbs onto the altar in front of the temple accompanied by four oni. All of them wear paper masks. Matarajin starts reading prayers. The mantra is very long with a deliberate slowness. The oni and audience try to disturb reading. Nobody have any idea what it means, but if Matarajin makes a mistake, he has to read it all over again. Finally, Matarajin and the oni run down the altar and rush into the temple. The Japanese Tendai monk Ennin (794-864) introduced Matarajin to Japan from China as a protector deity of the Amida Sutra (ref Hiraizumi, Ennen-no-mai). 



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