In the Amami Islands, people pray to their ancestors at Kyūbon1. They mumble some incomprehensible chants like an incantation of yuta2, and say “Tōtoganashi” to end the prayer. The only intelligible word is this ending note.
The parents or grandparents do them first, then give their place to their children or grandchildren humbly waiting aside: “Now, it’s your turn, do your tōto…”
At other times, before entering the thickets in the mountains, they utter “Tōtoganashi, machi geguto aran ganushi…” and step in. It is a prayer to keep away any misfortune, for there may be habu (poisonous snakes) in the thickets.
Or else, when they are offered anything that came first of that season, they murmur “Tōtoganashi” and put their palms together reverently before taking it to their mouth.
As we can see, “Tōtoganashi” can be applied to all kinds of situations. Yet, in all cases, this word is never chanted in a careless manner. When speaking this word, anyone becomes solemn.
Will it be equivalent to the “Ūtōtō” of Okinawa? I think they are somewhat close, but there is a subtle difference between them.
- An event to honor the ancestors, celebrated around July 15th of the lunar calendar.
- People who are said to have mystical powers. They give prayers at places of worship in Okinawa.