Japan’s 1000-Year-Old Festival: “Tenjin Matsuri” in Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture

Osaka City: The Hub of Kansai’s Economy Known by All

Osaka, the major metropolis second only to Tokyo. Many travelers have visited Osaka, the economic center of the Kansai region, which boasts numerous tourist attractions and culinary delights, attracting large crowds daily.

Despite being the second smallest in area among the 47 prefectures of Japan, Osaka is home to about 7% of Japan’s population. Additionally, 10% of the foreigners residing in Japan live in Osaka.

Osaka City actively engages in international exchanges with many cities worldwide, and as globalization advances, it is expected to further develop as an international city.

Source: Gadget Tsushin

Let’s Go to Tenjin Matsuri!

Location: 2-chome, Tenmabashi, Kita-ku, Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture
Date: Annually from June to July 25 (The eve festival is on July 24, and the main festival is on July 25)
Access:

By Train: Take the Osaka Loop Line from Osaka Station and get off at Sakuranomiya Station. It’s a short walk from there. It’s also possible to walk directly from Osaka Station.

By Car: Exit at one of the downtown exits in Osaka City, park within a 20-minute walk, and then proceed on foot. Traffic restrictions start around 6 PM. There are few parking lots nearby.
URL: Osaka Tenmangu Official Website – Tenjin Matsuri

 

Tenjin Matsuri is one of Japan’s three major festivals.

“Tenjin Matsuri” refers to the various shrine festivals held at Tenmangu Shrines across Japan around June 25th, the anniversary of the deity Sugawara no Michizane’s death. There are over 10,000 shrines dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane nationwide. This guide introduces the largest Tenjin Matsuri centered around Osaka Tenmangu Shrine.

Various events are held from late June to late July during the Tenjin Matsuri, but the most exciting times are the evening before the main festival on July 24 (Yoi-miya) and the main festival on July 25, which includes the land procession (Rikutogyo) to the boat pier, the river procession (Funatogyo) with numerous boats on the Okawa River, and the spectacular fireworks display.

Source: Tenjin Matsuri Comprehensive Information Site

What Is the Origin of Tenjin Matsuri?

The origin of Tenjin Matsuri dates back to the 5th year of Tenryaku (951 AD), just two years after Osaka Tenmangu Shrine was founded. At that time, a divine ritual involved floating a sacred halberd down the Okawa River and establishing a travel shrine where it came ashore for purification. Devotees and shrine patrons arranged boats to welcome the divine spirit, which became the foundation of the sacred halberd ritual and the beginning of Tenjin Matsuri.

Although Tenjin Matsuri has a history spanning over a century, political influences during the late Edo period and the impact of world wars led to the suspension of the rituals and the festival itself, threatening its continuation. However, thanks to the efforts of the people of Naniwa who wished to preserve their tradition, they overcame difficult circumstances, and Tenjin Matsuri continues to be a vibrant summer tradition in Osaka.

Introducing the Main Events of Tenjin Matsuri

One of the main events of Tenjin Matsuri is the land procession (Rikutogyo). A procession of about 3,000 people marches along a 4-kilometer route, with a leading drum, Sarutahiko, Uneme, and floral umbrellas forming a procession centered around the sacred palanquin (Gohoren). After the land procession ends, the river procession (Funatogyo) begins.

The second main event is the river procession. In this event, the sacred palanquin, which was escorted to the riverbank during the land procession, is now transported by boat to the travel shrine. Approximately 100 boats participate. During the river procession, a water ritual is performed on the sacred palanquin boat to allow the deity to observe the lives of the shrine parishioners and citizens and to pray for their protection.

The grand finale of Tenjin Matsuri is the fireworks display with about 5,000 fireworks launched. They begin when the river procession starts and darkness falls. The sky is adorned with colorful fireworks, the river glows with the lights from the boats in the procession, creating an enchanting scene.

Source: Wedding Park

Join the Tenjin Matsuri Blessed by the Gods!

Ensuring the grand success of Tenjin Matsuri will undoubtedly please the deities. This summer, why not visit the festival to observe the solemn ceremonies and enjoy the historic Tenjin Matsuri?

Japan’s Three Major Festivals

  • Gion Festival in Kyoto Prefecture
  • Kanda Festival in Tokyo Prefecture

Osaka’s Three Major Summer Festivals

  • Aizen Festival in Osaka Prefecture
  • Sumiyoshi Festival in Osaka Prefecture

 

Featured Image: Courtesy of Life Is Good! Fun Information Center

(Editor: 千八乃)

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