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Kyoto, Japan City Info
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Early January

Toka Ebisu

Join the throngs of people who flock to Osaka's Imamiya Ebisu Shrine to pray for prosperity and luck in business during this boisterous, colorful three day festival.

Ebisu is the God of Wealth and one of the 'Seven Gods of Good Fortune' ('shichi-fukujin'). He is the patron saint of those in business and commerce and is usually portrayed carrying a fishing rod and a large fish - a symbol of abundance. Those in business never fail to make an annual visit to the Ebisu Shrine during this festival to purchase a lucky 'fukusasa' (good fortune bamboo branch) from Shrine Maidens who call out the promise "Buy branches and your business will prosper"!

‚ÄĚToka Ebisu' means the Tenth Day Ebisu, and indeed the highlight, a colorful parade of palanquins bearing geisha and famous celebrities, takes place on the 10th. Other attractions include geisha dances, traditional performing arts and rice cake making. The festivities each day last well into the evening, when the streets are illuminated with colored lanterns and lights.

More than a million people pass through the shrine during these three days

+81 (0) 6 305 3311

 

Early February

Setsubun (Bean Throwing Festival)

In Japan, the ritual driving out of demons, bad luck and evil spirits in preparation for the lunar New Year is achieved with boisterous mame-maki (bean throwing ceremonies), performances by colorfully dressed oni (goblins and demons) and high-profile celebrity appearances at shrines and temples across the country.

Roasted soy beans are the weapon of choice against the oni, which appear on this day in homes, schools, kindergartens and in temple and shrine precincts. As colorful "devils" wearing grotesque masks rush threateningly around, lively crowds pelt them with beans while shouting "Fuku-wa-uchi, Oni-wa-soto!" ("Good luck in, devils out!"), finally vanquishing them and chasing them away. The beans are said to symbolize the sowing of seeds and the impregnation of the Earth with new life.

 

Late February-Late March

Nitten: The Japan Fine Arts Exhibition

The Japan Fine Arts Exhibition at the Osaka Municipal Museum of Art is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind. On display are carefully selected pieces of art, sculpture and calligraphy from the finest of Japan's established modern artists, as well as talented newcomers.

With a history going back almost a century, the Nitten has certainly built a reputation for itself. Its Japanese-Style Painting category features modern interpretations of traditional styles, whereas Western-Style Painting uses foreign techniques to produce a modern representation of Japan's natural features. Sculpture, Craft as Art and Calligraphy add variety to this already diverse blend..

+81 (0) 6 6771 4874

 

Mid March

The March Basho

The greatest Sumo wrestlers in Japan, and therefore the world, meet at the Osaka Municipal Gymnasium for the March Basho, one of the year's six Grand Tournaments.

Sumo is one of Japan's most popular sports, steeped in legend, history and ceremony. To the outsider it can seem like a mere battle of strength and power, but it should be remembered that this is a sport with over 70 different throws, trips, forms and tricks. Only when these are mastered will the wrestler stand a chance of becoming a Yokuzuna (grand champion).

The best seats in the house are those situated closest to the dohyo (the ring).  Make sure that you order tickets early though, as they can sell out quickly.

+81 (0) 3 5211 2171

 

Late March-Mid April

Osaka Mint Bureau - Cherry blossom viewing

No flower has a greater place in the hearts of the Japanese than the cherry blossom - the national flower of Japan

The Ministry of Finance's Osaka Mint Bureau is situated on the Yodo Riverside Promenade.

The promenade can be walked along freely at any time, but in a tradition dating back to the late 19th century, the Mint Gardens open to the public for just one week a year during the peak blossom period. As an added bonus, the cherry trees are illuminated in the evenings. The Mint Bureau blossoms are so famous that the people of Osaka even have a special phrase, "zoheikyoku sakura no torinuke", which means "viewing the cherry blossoms while strolling through the Mint Bureau gardens".

The Mint Bureau gardens boast 400 cherry trees, including examples of almost 100 different varieties, some very rare. Particular attention is paid to a variety that produces light green flowers, and another where the petals are pale yellow.

+81 (0) 66351 5361

 

Early July

Tanabata Star Festival

Wish upon a star and roam streets festooned with colorful decorations during the lively traditional Tanabata Star Festival, inspired by a romantic legend and held throughout Japan.

The event, which is thought to date back to the 8th century, is based on an old Chinese legend of two lovers. Separated by the milky way, the cowherd Kengyu (the star Altair) and the weaver Orihime (the star Vega) are permitted to meet only on one night of the year, the seventh day of the seventh month.

Streets are decorated with lanterns and colorful streamers, and bamboo poles festooned with paper strips inscribed with wishes (tanzaku), origami, talismans and colored threads are erected along the streets and outside homes.

Carnival parades, beauty contests and firework displays also take place in many areas.

+81 (0) 3 5211 2171


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