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Osaka, Kyoto and Kansai
Horikawa Ebisu Shrine is in Kita ward of Osaka city. It worships the God of prosperous business – Ebisu. Many visitors come to the shrine to pray for successful business especially during the period of Toka Ebisu festival from January 9th to 11th every year. Similar festivals take place in many shrines all over Japan, especially in the Kansai area and Kyushu. Toka Ebisu Festival Imamiya Ebisu Shrine in Osaka and New Year Grand Festival at Toka Ebisu Shrine in Hakata are the most popular of them. In this article, I would like to talk about no less popular celebration at Horikawa Ebisu Shrine.
About 1400 years ago, during the Emperor Kinmei era, 539-571, Horikawa Ebisu Shrine was established and enshrined the Great God of Ebisu (蛭子大神, Ebizu no Okami). Ebisu is one of the Seven Gods of Fortune (七福神 Shichifukujin). Originally, the Great God of Ebisu was a virtue in the extensive large catch for fish. Then, deep faith in Ebisu has been dedicated from people in Osaka and extended around Kansai. Ebisu became a guardian of business development and industrial development bringing prosperity to everyone who prays to him.
Toka Ebisu is a great annual event featuring a traditional fair in Osaka. It is widely known as Ebe-san and many people join the celebration every year since the mid-Edo period. People call and are familiar with the shrine as ‘South’s Imamiya (another Ebisu shrine in Osaka), North’s Horikawa’. The magnificence of the celebration is still unabated. Hundreds of thousands of business owners who wish for a successful business for the next year visit Horikawa shrine between January 9th and 11th. Typically, the shrine closes at 8 pm, but the gate is open until midnight every day during the Toka Ebisu Festival. As you pass the gate and reach the shrine grounds, you will hear Kagura (神楽), traditional religious dance and music performance, and lively sounds of bells and Japanese drums. It will make you feel the vitality of this Osaka’s specialty celebration. There are many Kagura performances during the day, so it is going to be hard to miss it.
Traditionally, visitors purchase Fukusasa (“福笹”, a lucky bamboo) which is a bamboo stick with fresh five bamboo leaves and decorations that present fortunes from the old days. When you purchase Fukusasa, Fuku-musume (“福娘”, fortune bringing girls) will cheer you for the success by saying ‘Ogakura!’ At night, when the crowd is at its peak, the shrine features a light up. And the major shopping street by the temple also has special lighting. Over 200 night shops and food stalls keep being open for the celebration and show the distinctive gorgeous night view of the town.
Dates: January 9th – 11th, 2019. Same dates every year.
10:00 -12:00 Shikoro music (9th only)
14:00 – Lucky rice cake distribution (limited quantity for those who purchase the lucky bamboo)
Place: Horikawa Ebisu Shrine
Address: 5-4-17 Nishitemma, Kita-ku, Osaka
Official website (Japanese only): http://www.horikawa-ebisu.or.jp/toka_ebisu.htm
You can access the temple by walking from the nearest train station. From Subway Tanimachi Line/Sakaisuji Line Minamimorimachi Station Exit 1, it is a 3-minute walk. From JR Tozai Line Osaka Tenmangu Shrine Station Exit, it is also a 3-minute walk.
You can drive there but there is no parking at the shrine. So, taking the train and walking is the best way to get there.
Whether you are a business owner or not, Horikawa Ebisu Shrine is worth a visit during Toka Ebisu festival. It is a unique festival even for Japan. Perhaps, Osaka has great food and great people because of the Great God of Ebisu! Please compare this festival with those in other shrines at this period and feel the local traditions.
If you would like to see this festival together with a local guide and explore Osaka from a resident point of view, please check the banner below!
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