Inoko (the Young Boar Festival) (亥の子)
Inoko (the Young Boar Festival) is an annual event held on the day of boar in October (month of boar) in old calendar. It is also called the Gencho, Inokono (young boar) iwai (celebration), or Inoko (young boar) Festival. This event is held mainly in the west of Japan. In this event, people make and eat Inoko mochi (boar dumplings), wishing elimination of disease and prosperity for their descendants. In some cases, children visit houses in their area, pounding the ground in front of each house.
Regarding the origin of this event, there are several theories including; it originated in the custom in China that they ate dumplings with grain mixed at the time of boar on the day of boar, which was adopted to a court function in Japan; it originated in an incident that occurred in the ancient Imperial Court. This event gradually spread to court nobles or Samurai, and eventually, it was established as a popular event. It was held just after the harvest, thus it was intended to celebrate the harvest as well. In some regions, it is said that the act of pounding the ground was intended to send tanoak (deity of rice fields and harvests) to the heaven (or mountains). It is also intended to have a share of luck from a boar that has many babies, and it is believed one is free from fire disasters if the prepares kotatsu (table with heater) on the day of boar.
The embodiment of an event varies according to region, in some regions, they eat Inoko mochi (boar dumplings), but don't pound stones, and vice versa.
Inoko mochi (boar dumplings)
They eat Inoko mochi at the time of boar on the day of boar. Plain dumplings, dumplings with boiled azuki beans are usually prepared, and sometimes special dumplings with a shape of boar are prepared.
Refer to Inoko mochi section for details.
Inoko (young boar) stone
From the evening to the night on the day of boar in October in the old calendar, children (sometimes all are boys) in the area get together, and visit houses one by one, singing a song, and swinging a rope connected onto a flat round stone or globular shape stone up and down, pounding the ground with the stone. The song that children sing varies according to region, usually the song for Inoko (young boar) is used. The lyrics of the song may be associated with believing in omens, but there are exceptions. In the house where children pound the stone, a person in the house treats the children with dumplings, sweets, or pocket money. If children are not treated in one's house, the children may sing a bad song for them. In some regions, a straw gun (a bundle of straws tied up) is used instead of a stone. According to some cases using a straw gun, they may be associated with a similar event, tokanya (the night on the 10th day of October) held on October 10 in the east of Japan.
After children pound the ground, a semi circle hole was left in the front yard of each house; the bigger it was, the happier they were. It was the early winter feature, but most streets were concreted in recent years. People carry a small tatami mat around, and children pound on it or just pretend to have a gesture of pounding in the air.
During the period from 1965 to 1974, some schools prohibited Inoko events and the Inoko event was abolished because students were too preoccupied with preparation for the event or practice of Inoko songs to concentrate on their homework or to study.
In some regions such as (Yoshida cho, Uwajima City, Ehime Prefecture), this event has been preserved and encouraged and is still held as a 'community center event.'