Omiwatari on Lake Suwa

February 23rd, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

Last week, a phenomenon known as Omiwatari, was observed on the frozen Lake Suwa in the Nagano prefecture of Japan. Chunks of ice pushed up from cracks like giant crystals rising across the lake.

It’s the first time in a few years Omiwatari has appeared. It happens when ice on the water expands and contracts due to temperature changes from day to night.

And apparently, when it occurs, it’s a chance for some divination.

According to tradition, Omiwatari is caused by the footsteps of the god Takeminakata-no Mikoto when he crosses Lake Suwa to visit with the goddess Yasakatome-no Mikoto.

In honour of its occurrence Shinto priests performed a purification rite, and gathered data for predictions on this year’s social situations, weather, and the prospects for crop harvests.

This year’s Omiwatari patterns were compared to patterns from the past, and it was determined that they were similar to ones observed in 1897 and 1963.

Thus, the priests predicted unseasonable weather and adverse conditions. But despite the weather, they still expect a good year with an abundant harvest.

Watch the video below to see the Omiwatari and the priests doing their work. It’s in Japanese, but even if without understanding the language, you can figure out what’s going on.

And that Omiwatari is pretty awesome.

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