'One million prayers for Amitabha' is one of the few remaining examples of folk
religious devotion in Kiryuu. Inhabitants of the last 20 houses left in Umeda's Minazawa
have started a preservation group to teach others about the custom.
The prayers, said to date from the Edo period, ask Amitabha to banish serious
illnesses from the village; at one time ablution was performed in the Minazawa river and
each house visited between morning and nightfall.
These days, 'One million prayers for Amitabha' takes place the morning of the last day
of O-Bon, August 17, at three crossroads in the village - Hikomakoh in the east,
Nakanosawa in the north, and Koushin-mae in the west.
Large crowds chant 'Namu Amitabha' in time with gongs and drums and rub a 3.3 meter
rosary made from a hollowed out cherry tree. In 1987, the prayers were named an intangible
cultural asset of the city.