Misogi (Ablution) (禊)

The term,"misogi," (ablution) has two meanings.

It refers to the washing of oneself in icy water, the river, sea or waterfall in Shinto or Buddhism when one's body is polluted, or before or during an important Shinto ceremony. In Buddhism, it is primarily called mizugori (purification by cold water). One of its earliest usage examples is found in the Manyoshu(Collections of Ten Thousand Leaves): 'As your love towards me has aroused so much jealousy, I am going to perform my ablutions in the river in my hometown Asuka' (vol. 4-626).

It is a simplified form of misogiharae (ablution and ritual purification). It is used as a season word for summer in haiku (seventeen-mora poetry) and tanka (thirty-one syllables' poem).

Rite of Passage

In some regions boys (and occasionally girls) who come of a certain age may not be recognized as grownups until they perform their ablutions as a passage rite.

In principle, both men and women must be dressed in white, though men may also wear loincloths.

If a loincloth is worn, it must as a rule be of white Ecchu type but could also be a G-string.

Relationship between Ablutions and Naked Festivals

Many of the naked festivals around the country are festive forms of ablution as a passage rite.

In naked festivals of ablution type, participants often pour icy water over their heads or go into the river or sea in the middle of winter. In some derived forms of these festivals, people splash one another hot spring water, mud, amazake (sweet alcoholic drink) or festive red rice. In naked festivals of ablution type, participants often pour icy water over their heads or go into the river or sea in the middle of winter. In some derived forms of these festivals, people splash one another with hot spring water, mud, amazake (sweet mild sake) or festive red rice.

It is also common that participants carrying portable shrines are drenched in water or go into the river or sea. This is also seen as a kind of ablution. It is also common that participants carrying portable shrines are drenched in water or go into the river or sea. This is also seen as a kind of ablution.

Modern Ablutions

One of the modern ablutions is a shrine visitor's purifying himself in a purification font as a religious practice before participating in a Shinto ceremony.

Some people perform their ablutions by entering the river, sea or waterfall. This form of ablution is performed by shrine people at a workshop, etc. It can also be organized by a shrine, inviting its parishners for spiritual training in the depth of winter. This form of ablution is performed by shrine people at a workshop, etc. It can also be organized by a shrine, inviting its parishners for spiritual training in the depth of winter.

On such an occasion spiritual athletes may perform ablutions as a part of their mid-winter training. Some athletes pour cold water over their heads before their training.

Modern Meaning of Misogi

The first meaning of the word misogi has been extended to mean a certain (cooling-off) period during which a politician who has committed a crime withdraws from his candidacy. Or if the politician stands in election again after the cooling-off period, he recognizes this election as his ablutions and if he is elected, he can then say, "I have performed my ablutions."

This word can be used as in, 'Mr. So-and-so is going to do his misogi (ablutions).'

References

A homonym of the Japanese term for ablution refers to wood used to create Shinto or Buddhist statues. Hinoki cypress, sandalwood, chinaberry, Japanese bigleaf magnolia, etc. are used.

Oharae is an ancient Shinto purification ritual in which one-hundred court officials (including imperial princes) gathered in front of the Suzaku-mon Gate on the last day of the sixth and twelfth months of the year to cleanse people of their sins and purify them. In modern time, too, it is preformed at the Imperial Court as well as shrines around the country. It is also called Nakatominoharae. Based on these Shinto rituals, it has been used as a season word symbolizing summer and winter in haiku and tanka.