immortal wishes:
labor and transcendence
on a Japanese sacred mountain

Ellen Schattschneider

Duke University Press (2003)


Akakura Mountain Shrine Rituals

"Saigi, Saigi" (Shrine Hymn)


This call-and-response song is one of the very first things learned by a new worshipper at the Akakura Mountain Shrine: it is sung every night at evening services and is performed during every major ceremony and pilgrimage over the course of the annual cycle. During the mountain opening ceremony in May, the singing climbers are sometimes accompanied by professional Tsugaru musicians.

See: internet Resources on Japanese Music

VIDEO CLIP: "Saigi, Saigi" being sung by senior kamisama spirit medium and the congregation at the shrine's 1991 summer festival. Click here.
(2.8 MB)


VIDEO CLIP: "Saigi, Saigi" being sung by the congregation climbing the mountain for the May 1st Mountain Opening Ceremony. Click here (2 MB)


1. [Priest]:Saigi! Saigi!

(Repentance! Repentance!) (or; Cleansing! Cleansing!)

2. [Congregation]: Rokkonsaigi!

(Cleanse the six roots of perception)

3. [Priest]: Oyamase hachidai..

(The sacred mountainŐs eight great..)

4. [Congregation]: ...Kongodosha

(The [eight deities] Kongodoji)

5. [Priest]: Itsuni nanohai!

(One by one [we will] worship, or; [we will] worship [the kami] one by one)

6. [Congregation]: Namuki myochorai!

(Please bless us!)

Related Internet Resources


Japanese Religious Music (Japan Access)

Ancient Japanese Music (Richard Hooker, Washington State University)

Multimedia Guide to Japanese Popular Music (Ian Condry, MIT)

A delightful and thought-provoking on line introduction to Japanese hip hop, R & B, enka, folk, rock and children's songs.



Website developed by Ellen Schattschneider (Brandeis University)