Gion Matsuri – A 2-Day Summer Festival in Kagoshima
On a yearly basis, from evening to the second day for Yasaka Jinja shrines in Japan, there is a festival called Gion Matsuri. (Yes, Gion and Yasaka Jinja is not only in Kyoto!)
In Kagoshima, this festival is affectionately known as “Ogionsa” in Kagoshima by the locals.
“Ogionsa” is one of the traditional festivals that gives the hot Japanese summers a beautiful color. Since the Edo period, this 2-day festival is held in hopes of chasing plagues away as well as business prosperity.
Every year, in late July, the Tenmonkan shopping district, there will be about 3,000 people, participants and visitors that will center around a lively mikoshi. There is a long history about the mikoshi that history lovers would be interested to read!
So, what is a mikoshi?
A mikoshi, to simplify, is a portable Shinto Shrine. It is a sacred religious palanquin, where the Shinto followers believes that it is a vehicle that is used to transport a deity that allows the deity to move from a shrine to another temporary shrine during a festival, or relocation of shrines. Usually, they are carried by many volunteers, and they tend to weigh a lot!
In addition, “Ogionsa” is the only remaining valuable festival among the three major festivals in Kagoshima! This festival lasts 2 days, with an eve festival “Yoi-matsuri” and the main festival “Hon-matsuri”. So you get to enjoy a lot!
In Yoi-matsuri, starting from the Yasaka Shrine, a Mikoshi departs and head towards the Tenmonkan shopping district with a powerfully lively manner and animate the city.
Also at Kagoshima city’s Chuo Park, there will be a special stage where visitors can witness numerous stage performances that subsequently introduces the Shinkyo Parade of the festival and so on.
Within the park, Mikoshi exhibition and floats, eateries and also fairs are available. It is an enjoyable summer festival!
After that, the real deal begins. The “Hon-matsuri” parade consists of around 3,000 people walking about 2.5km around the city center!
The parade is spectacular near Tenmonkan, with majestic mikoshi that prays for good health and business prosperity. There are many things that are interesting here! You can experience traditional events and the Japanese culture right here in the historical Kagoshima.
Let’s visit Kagoshima!