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Ever Heard of Tenjin Matsuri? Learn About This Big Japanese Summer Festival!

Osaka's Summer Festival will captivate you on firm land, the river, and the sky!

Mitsu Yane Danjiri in Tenjin Matsuri 2023
Tenjin Matsuri 2023

Tenjin Matsuri is a lively festival in Osaka held to wish health and peace to its citizens. It’s another Japanese tradition worth learning about, and I had the opportunity to take photos of this year’s processions!

Stay with me to learn all you need to know about this fantastic festival.

The Third Biggest Festival in Japan!

A man wearing traditional attire during the procession — Tenjin Matsuri 2023
Tenjin Matsuri 2023

Tenjin Matsuri is a significant Japanese festival in the summer, known as the Festival of Fire and Water. It’s also one of the three biggest festivals in Japan, along with Gion and Kanda.

The festival began in the year 951, and its purpose is to request health, prosperity, and protection for the people who live in Osaka. It’s one month long and organized by Osaka’s Tenmangu Shrine to honor Sugawara Michizane, a scholar and politician enshrined as a deity of scholarship.

Tenjin Matsuri begins in late June and peaks between July 24 and 25, ending with impressive land, river processions, and fireworks.

The main events occur inside and around the shrine, drawing an impressive number of people yearly. And while it’s free admission, those who want a privileged view of the parades must purchase seats in special areas.

July 24th - Yomiya

Drummers (Ganji) at Tenjin Matsuri 2023
Tenjin Matsuri 2023 || The Otaku Box

On this day, the rituals and prayers start early in the morning. Taiko and dragon dance performances mark the beginning of the main festivities.

Later, more beautiful performances, such as the Noh theater spectacle were performed on a stage boat and the lion dance. These performances display the beauty of Japanese traditions!

Also, while the processions on the 24th are smaller than the ones on the 25th, they are still extremely important. That’s because they serve as preparation for the festival’s final day.

July 25th - Honmiya

Tenjin Matsuri 2023: Procession Return
Tenjin Matsuri 2023 || The Otaku Box

This is the big day when the main celebrations are held!

In the afternoon, a massive parade of 3,000 people heads to the Okawa River (the Rikutogyo), followed by enthusiastic performances. Then, the Tenjin deity is carried to the boats in a portable shrine called mikoshi, where the second procession begins two hours later.

The second parade, Funatogyo, consists of a hundred boats, including the ones carrying the mikoshi, drummers, and stage boats. That’s the highlight of the Tenjin Festival!

Before the boats return, a breathtaking fireworks display lights up the sky at night, signifying the end of the festivities.

It’s Such A Fascinating Experience!

Despite the hot and humid weather typical in Japanese Summer, the Tenjin Matsuri is a high-spirited festival where I could appreciate Japanese traditional arts in different forms. I also learned more about the culture and enjoyed delicious food from the stalls along the river.

It’s a pleasure to share what I know with my fellow otakus.

For more about Japan and anime, check the related posts below. And keep an eye out for my next posts.

Images from The Otaku Box's Archive

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