The Tenjin Festival in Osaka, Japan
One of the best summer festivals in Japan, tenjin is the amalgamation of a river festival and a fireworks display. It is a spectacular event involving 3,000 people dressed in the imperial court style of the 8th to 12th centuries marching beside mikoshi- portable shrines.
The parade starts off at Osaka Tenmangu, and you will get a great view from many places around the area.
Getting a good spot for the Okatogyo can be tricky. It is a street and river parade that starts at Osaka Tenmangu around 3:30 in the afternoon. People will be crowding the shrine and Mido-Suji Street so you’ll need to be prepared for a bit of a trek if you want to see it all.
Some of the most important elements of the Okatogyo include shishimai and Kasa odori performances, as well as the mammoth three roof danjiri Mitsu Yane. The only one of its kind in Japan! There are also Hohaisen boats you can pay to get on and sail up the Okawa River. These are sponsored by local companies and can be pretty expensive.
The last item on the parade is a beautiful ornate cow, a symbol of the shrine and its founder Sugawaru no Michizane (also known as Tenjin-san). It is carried down the street by two children who represent Tenjin’s followers.
At the heart of many Japanese festivals is a mikoshi – a portable shrine that gets carried around by residents. During the Tenjin festival, locals take on this challenge with overflowing enthusiasm. Typically, the mikoshi bearers are men, but female participants are also welcome. As they carry the mikoshi around town, the mikoshi bearers shake it violently to energize and rouse the divine spirit inside.
This is called Edomae-katsugi. It may seem aggressive, but it is meant to rouse the spirit inside and make sure that it travels quickly to its destination.
The Tenjin Matsuri is a symbolic water and light festival that dates back more than 1,000 years. It commemorates the deification of Sugawara no Michizane, a scholar who is considered to be the God of Learning. The festival features a river procession of mikoshi and floats, as well as a mesmerizing fireworks display over the Okawa River. The festivities continue into the night and are a sight to see!
Tenjin is one of the three largest seasonal festivals in Japan and it features both a river procession and a fireworks display. The event starts on July 24th with Shinto rituals and parades through the city. However the real excitement begins on the second day when 3,000 people board their boats and sail up the Okawa River.
As they move up the river they pass each other shouting “Da chimashiyo” (Clap your hands!) and the whole thing ends with a spectacular fireworks show. It’s a truly mesmerizing sight and it attracts over 1.3 million people each year.
The festival is centered on the Tenmangu Shrine, which was built in the late Heian period enshrining Sugawara no Michizane. It’s an important part of the Osaka city and its festival is held to ward off pestilence and wish for perfect health and peace for the citizens. Located close by Osaka Tenmangu Station on the JR Tozai Line.
As fireworks shoot into the night sky and a fleet of 100 boats glide along the Okawa River, the funatogyo comes to a close. The fireworks and boat procession are a truly mesmerizing sight and it is an event that is worth visiting.
The boat parade is the most important feature of the festival and has a history that dates back more than 1,000 years. It is based on the Hokonagashi ritual which was started in 951. In this ritual, a sacred hoko is floated down the river to determine where it would wash up to.
The boat parade is led by the Kobourenhoan and Kumihososen boats that carry Michizane’s divine spirit. There are also a number of other boats, such as the omukae boat which is adorned with gorgeous-looking dolls to welcome Michizane’s divine spirit and the hohai boat which are sponsored by companies. The Moyo-oshidaiko drum and the captivating lion dances that accompany this parade make it an event that is worth attending.