NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉


諏訪湖 お神渡り Suwako Omi-watari  Omiwatari (Passage of the Gods) at Lake Suwa-ko

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Omiwatari, which literally means Passage of the Gods, is a special natural phenomenon seen at Lake Suwa-ko in Suwa city, Nagano, during winter. The word also refers to a religious ritual that is held at the time Omiwatari is being observed.  This ritual has been performed since ancient times.
When the entire surface of Lake Suwa-ko freezes completely, the ice cracks and the frozen lake surface is thrust up in the shape of a mountain. Local people believed the ridge of this ice mountain was the passage walked on by gods and they called the  phenomenon Omiwatari or Gods’ Passage.
One reason people believed this myth is that Suwa Shrine in Suwa city consists of two separate shrines situated on both the north and south sides of Lake Suwa-ko. It was believed that the gods came and went between the shrines, crossing the frozen lake during the winter time.
Once the phenomenon is observed, the head priest of Yatsurugi Shrine studies the cracks, closely referring to the past records and he holds the religious ritual to forecast the weather, the quantity of the coming harvest and social conditions for the coming year.
Omiwatari at Lake Suwa-ko is a religious ceremony that celebrates nature’s annual spectacle.

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Suwa, Nagano Prefecture 392-0000
Omiwatari (Passage of the Gods) at Lake Suwa-ko

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