Bravely Cutting Green Serpents in Competition"Takekiri-eshiki" at Kurama-dera Temple, Kyoto
"Takekiri-eshiki," a ceremony that is a competition over the speed at which green bamboo, representing great serpents, can be vigorously slashed, was held on June 20, at Kurama-dera Temple, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto. Many spectators raptly watched men dressed as warrior monks wielding swords bravely.
It is believed that the ceremony has its roots in a story about Buen, a priest at that same temple in the ninth century, who vanquished a giant serpent. Since the mid-Edo Period, two teams, "Tamba-za" and "Omi-za," have competed to see which team representing its area could cut bamboo logs faster in order to predict whether their harvests would be rich or poor.
After "Take-narashi," or a procedure to confirm that both groups' bamboo have the same number of internodes, was carried out, "Shobu-gari," or the cutting competition, was performed. As the chief priest Konin Shigaraki signaled with her fan, each 4-man-team formed two pairs that then began cutting bamboo logs measuring roughly four meters in length and about 10 centimeters in diameter. As the Omi-za team finished cutting the bamboo into six pieces, one of them shouted, "Omi wins." Loud cheers and applause erupted from the crowd of approximately 700 visitors.(translated by Galileo, Inc.)