Achimenowaza (songs to accompany kagura performances) (阿知女作法)

Achimenowaza (also known as Achimewaza, Achimesaho, Ajimenosaho, and so on) is a Kagurauta (songs to accompany kagura [sacred music and dancing performed at shrines] performance) performed in the Imperial Court or shrines. It was originally a kind of a magic spell to celebrate the advent of God and to create a sacred atmosphere.

"Ah, Chih, Meh" (once), "Oh, Oh, Oh" (three times), "Oh, Keh" (once): This set of phrase is called Achimenowaza, and sung in chorus by two groups (motokata [leaders, sitting on the left side of the niwabi, a garden fire, at Mikagura, music performed in court Shinto ceremonies] and suikata [followers, sitting on the right side of the niwabi]).

Kagurauta is roughly divided into the following parts: Niwabi (preparation for the night), Torimono (greeting the gods), Saibari (entertainment for the gods), and Akaboshi (sending off the gods). The most common way of Achimenowaza is that after the part of Niwabi, a variation of the phrase is repeated in the part of Torimono or Maebari, and so on. It is also used for a song sung in Chinkonsai (a service for the repose of the dead) as described as follows.

It reached completion as a ceremonial song in the mid Heian period. In the late Engi era (around 912 to 923), its music note was standardized.

On the second Day of the Tiger (one of the twelve animals of the oriental zodiac in Chinese calendar) in November: Chinkonsai song
Ah, Chih, Meh (once), Oh, Oh, Oh (three times)

1. Ametsuchini kiyurakasuwa sayurakasu kamiwakamo kamikosowa kinekiko kiyuranaraba

Ah, Chih, Meh (once), Oh, Oh, Oh (three times)

2. Isonokami Furuyashiro no tachimokato Negau sonokoni Sono tatematsuru

Ah, Chih, Meh (once), Oh, Oh, Oh (three times)

3. Satsuoraga Motaki no mayumi Okuyamani Mikarisurashimo Yuminohasumiyu

Ah, Chih, Meh (once), Oh, Oh, Oh (three times)

4. Noborimasu Toyohirumekami Tamahosu Motohakanahoko Suehakihoko

Ah, Chih, Meh (once), Oh, Oh, Oh (three times)

5. Miwayamani Aritateruchikasao Imasakaetewa Itsukasakaen

Ah, Chih, Meh (once), Oh, Oh, Oh (three times)

6. Wakimokoga Anashinoyama no Yamanomoto Hitomomirukani Miyamakazuraseyo

Ah, Chih, Meh (once), Oh, Oh, Oh (three times)

7. Tamahakoni Yutorishitete Tamachitoraseyo Mitamakari Tamakarimashishi kamiwa Imazokimaseru

Ah, Chih, Meh (once), Oh, Oh, Oh (three times)

8. Mitamamini Imashishikamiwa Imazokimaseru Tamahakomochite sarikurumitama
Tamakaeshisunaya

9. Hito Futa Mi Yo Itsu Muyu Nana Ya Kokono Tariya (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten)

Most of the meanings are obscure; if a kanji character is used to express each meaning, it is uncertain whether the kanji accurately corresponds to the meaning. Since it is a song, its sound is assumed not to be greatly changed; so it is described in the hiragana syllabary as stated above.

One theory is that 'Achime' refers to 'Azumi no Isora,' a male god, and 'Oh, Oh, Oh' is Azumi no Isora's response (in Taiheiki [The Record of the Great Peace] and others). However, now that 'Achime' is expressed in kanji characters as '阿知女,' in which the character '女' meaning 'woman' is used, these kanji must have been used as phonetic symbols rather than for the meanings in later years; however, details are still unknown. Another theory is that 'Ameno uzume' (goddess of entertainment) was corrupted into 'Achime' (in Guansho [commentary book on Kagurauta]).

1. The word 'yurakasu' or 'furakasu' used in this part possibly means to shake Emperor's clothes ready for Chinkonsai.
Kine' possibly means 'shrine maiden.'

2. 'Isonokami Furuyashiro' probably refers to the Isonokami-jinja Shrine.

3. 'Satsuo,' which can be expressed in kanji characters as '猟夫,' means ' hunter.'

4. 'Toyohirume' is said to refer to 'Amaterasu Omikami' (the Sun Goddess). Hoko' probably means 'halberd;' however, it is not certain.

5. 'Miwayama' refers to Mt. Miwa.
One theory is that 'chigusa' (a cogon-grass) was corrupted into 'chikasa.'

6. There is a theory that 'Miyamakazura' means 'hair ornament' made of Yamakazura (club moss).

7. 'Tamahako' means 'box' in which spirits are enshrined. It is actually called Katsurabako (葛函).

8. The theory goes that 'Tamakaeshisunaya' refers to 'You may ask to stay longer.'

9. Numbers are counted from 1 to 10; this may be related to 'Hifumi no Haraekotoba' (counting words read by the priest in a Shinto purification rite) known as a magic spell of Tokusa no kandakara (the ten sacred treasure).