|Romaji name||saki nawa no gi shiki|
|Other names||Gates of the Underworld Ceremony|
|Participants||Rope Shrine Maiden|
|Frequency||Every 10 years on December 13|
|Purpose||Bind the Hell Gate|
The Strangling Ritual is a ritual in Fatal Frame used to keep the Hell Gate closed, preventing the Malice and evil spirits from passing through the gate and bringing disaster. It is always performed on December 13th, approximately 10 years after the prior sacrifice. The ritual involves the Rope Shrine Maiden being sacrificed and the ropes, saturated with her blood, are then used to bind the Hell Gate shut until the next ritual must be performed.
The girl child of the Himuro family with the highest degree of Holy Power would be chosen once per decade during the Demon Tag ritual.
After, the chosen child would be sequestered in the Himuro Mansion as the Rope Shrine Maiden for 3,669 days. The Maiden would be attended to by masked priests and cut all earthly ties in preparation for her role in the Strangling Ritual.
The Blinding Ritual would be performed on an unnamed day shortly before the Strangling Ritual.
December 12th, the night before the Strangling Ritual, the Rope Shrine Maiden is taken from her cell to the Tsukuyomi Shrine, where the four family priests and the Himuro family head would perform a small ritual to activate a hidden mechanism, revealing the Moon Well underneath the shrine. The maiden would climb down into the moon well to purify herself in the moonlight. On the day of sacrifice, the full moon would align to shine directly into the moon well.
December 13th, the day of the Strangling Ritual, the Himuro family would place the Blinding Mask, newly anointed with the blood of the Blinded Maiden in the Blinding Ritual, in the door of the Demon Mouth, acting as the key to open the doors. The mask and the Blinded Maiden's blood were thought to act as a blindfold for the demons beyond the Hell Gate, making it safe for the doors to be opened and for the entire party (consisting of most of the Himuro family, wearing sacred shide around their necks) to travel down towards the land of the dead.
From the Demon Mouth, the Himuro Family would travel along the Banned Path. It is noted that non-Himuro family visitors were at times present and invited to the Himuro house during the November-December ritual period, though those living in the nearby villages would lock all windows and doors and refuse to go outside on the day of the Strangling Ritual, December 13th, considering it extremely bad luck.
The Himuro family priests and the family head, wearing the mask of reflection, would be permitted to cross the Hell Bridge, where they met with the Rope Shrine Maiden, who enters the underground alone through a door in the Moon Well accessible only to her.
Only the priests, family head, and Rope Shrine Maiden would enter the doors to the Rope Altar, which lays directly underneath the Buddha Room, to complete the Strangling Ritual while the rest of the Himuro clan would remain outside on the Banned Path.
Within the Rope altar is a round, raised altar platform, surrounded by rack-like wheels, representing the five gods, five limbs, and five sacred mirrors in the surrounding shrines. The Rope Shrine Maiden would willingly lay on this pedestal, and Laceration Rope tied to each limb and around her neck. The priests would turn the wheels, the family head at the Maiden's head, tightening the ropes until the maiden died and her limbs were torn from her body. The Maiden must be willing and eager to die, and have no earthly attachments or pollution in order for the Strangling Ritual to be considered a success.
The five ropes would be soaked in the Maiden's blood to give them strength and held in the air to bless them to complete the Strangling Ritual.
After the completion of the Strangling Ritual, the priests carried the five ropes soaked in the Maiden's blood and the True Sacred Mirror along the Baptism Path to the Hell Gate. The family followed the priests along the path to the gates. The Baptism Path is lined with torii gates and ropes, marking the transition from the normal world to the underworld.
In front of the gate to hell, the True Holy Mirror is placed facing the door, offering additional protection so close to the land of the dead. The priests then perform the Ceremony of Ropes, tying the Strangling Ritual ropes across the gates to seal them shut for another decade. The sacred blood of the maiden stains the rope, thus strengthening the power used to seal off the Hell Gate.
The next maiden is already chosen by the time the Strangling Ritual is completed (she is chosen November 26th, 17 days before the Strangling Ritual occurs on December 13th). The new maiden's location and role during her predecessor's Strangling Ritual is unknown.
The last Strangling Ritual, performed on December 13th, 1837, failed and caused The Calamity. As a result, the Malice escaped and 1,347 souls were lost.