Japan: Aichi Prefecture / Nagoya (Atsuta Matsuri/ 熱田まつり )

The 1,900 year old Atsuta Jingu Shrine is host to 70 festivals throughout the year but the largest and most auspicious of these is the Atsuta Matsuri (Shobu-sai). The shrine, hidden among 1,000 year old cypress trees, is located in Nagoya in the Aichi Prefecture. It is said to be the home of the legendary Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi or the Sacred Sword Kusanagi, one of the three Imperial regalia.

On June 5th of every year, the Atsuta celebration takes place with parades, taiko drumming, martial arts displays and fireworks. The highlight of the festival is the five Kento Makiwara, large floats decorated with 365 lanterns. These floats are displayed at the entrance gates to the shrine and are lit up between the hours of 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM.

The Atsuta festivities begin at 10:00 AM with a special ceremony held in front of the shrine’s main sanctuary. Here, the Emperor’s messenger and the shrine’s priests pay homage to the gods of the shrine. A special dance called the Atsuta Kagura is performed to the tune of Japanese flutes and taiko drums. It is said that this local dance has been performed at the shrine since the shrine’s inception 1,900 years ago. The word kagura means god entertainment and refers to a form of Shinto theatrical dance that predates Noh. Visitors to the shrine during the matsuri will also have an opportunity to see kyudo (Japanese archery) and kendo (type of Japanese fencing).

In the evening, night stalls line the temple grounds offering delicious local delicacies and traditional matsuri fare. The fireworks take place at the Jingu Koen (Park) from 7:50 PM to 9:00 PM.

The festival is free to attend and the shrine can easily be accessed via the JR Tokaido Line from Nagoya Station to Atsuta Station.

Address:                      1-1-1 Jingu-Nishi, Atsuta-ku, Nagoya

Website                       http://www.atsutajingu.or.jp/jingu/shinto/reisai.html/



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