The Energy of Ho-tai
1. Ho-tai is shown above. It is the basic shape for the vowel u. It generally represents hot and light energy. Note the sun is shining down onto the ground of earth. The ground heats up, air moves up, The diagonal lines represent the coming and going of heat, moving very strongly. Therefore, ho-tai represents dynamic, powerful movement itself. This powerful energy can create new things, new forms of things.
2. The word ho is written in the ideogram above. It is made up of two parallel lines for h plus the square of the hani vowel o. So the word ho is born. It has several different meanings. For example millet and rice put out new ears (called ho). As time moves, there are seasons and years, and new things appear. This movement causes creation. The wosite u thus means big and great. It represents the beginning and origin of the universe.
The lines are from Mikasafumi and they read:
katati hani hu hasira tatite mutumasiku kore kami katati
The shape of hani two columns stand very closely this precious shape.
Indeed, the shape of ho-tai is precious, for it represents the powerful force of creation.
3. Allograph: each of two or more alternative forms of a letter of an alphabet or other grapheme. There are various allographs of ho as shown here. They include those for ‘time of year’, ‘millet ears’, and two forms for ‘fire’. The second is rarely used. The meaning of ‘fire’ is not only the ordinary fire, but it is also the hot energy that makes new things.
Festival of Ho (Grain Ears)
4 . We show lines 11552-11553 from Mikasafumi (right) and 2638-2640 from Hotuma Tutae (left).
The former reads:
hotumi hatu-hi ha u-ke maturi
On the first day of the Ho harvest season, autumn equinox, people make maturi for food.
The second excerpt reads:
kami maturu so-ro no hotumi no mi-ke mo mata usu tuki sirake hatu-hi ni ha kayi to siru toso
In modern pronunciation, it reads:
kami matsuru so-ro no hotsumi no mike mo mata usu tsuki shirake hatsuhi ni wa kayu to shiru toso
kami matsuru gather rice and millet ears and polish the grains white the first day make okayu and shiru.
Kami refers to a powerful natural force, here the grace of autumn. Maturu means honoring and thanking kami in a festival. So-ro are rice and millet, and hotumi means the ears are gathered. Usu tuki refers to polishing grain with an usu stone mill to make it white. Hatsuhi, the first day of the maturi, it is made into porridge/gruel and soup.
5. Hatsu-ho Matsuri
The Hatsu-ho Matsuri (festival of first harvest of rice) is held annually at shrines. In the shrines of Ise Jingu, they are held during the month of October. It is a time when the first harvesting of rice grown at the shrines is offered to Kami in gratitude. There is a later matsuri when the rice is cooked and presented to Kami.
The photo below shows the harvest boat arriving on the grounds of Naiku Inner Shrine of Ise Jingu from the sacred Isuzugawa (Isuzu River). It is laden with sheaves of rice. The sign in Japanese reads: O-hatsu-ho. The matsuri is a joyous time for the local community as well as the shrine.
Hatsu-ho Matsuri at Ise Jingu Naiku, by Okunomichi