Chika-san attended the Asadori Myoujin Himukae ceremony for the revival of the sun’s power. It took place as the sun rose in the south-east on the morning of winter solstice, shining directly into the center of the altar. Below is the altar before the sunrise, and then immediately as the sunlight illuminated the sacred object within.
Above is a photo of the priest explaining the ritual. He shouted the cock-crowing “Ko-ki-ko!” three times as a greeting to the sun. The group recited “Oh!”. This is a cry of joy that the sun is returning. Chika-san said that this ritual that musters life-force is very moving. The bright lights are the flashlights people are holding while it is still dark before sunrise.
Sun stones. Once, there were behind the hokora, a Sun Stone and five stones behind it. Now there are only three, because two of them were moved. The two men who touched the stones were subsequently afflicted with illness. That is why there are only three stones behind the Sun Stone, and no one is permitted to move the other two back. Lining up each of the three stones with the Sun Stone is the way to view sunrise at three distinct times of the year. In the photo below, the Sun Stone is indicated by a red dot, and the three alignment stones are marked with blue dots.