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Tokyo, Yokohama and Kanto
Yakuo-in Temple Autumn Festival or Takao-san ‘‘Syuuki Reitaisai’’ relates to the Japanese Shinto religion. “Syuuki” translates is the season of autumn and “Reitaisai” is one of the most important rituals or festivals organized by Shinto shrines. There are many Reitaisai in Japan organized only during spring and autumn. The purpose of this festival is to serve God and pray for safety.
In this article, I will introduce the famous “Reitaisai” festival at Takao mountain in Tokyo.
‘‘Takaosan Syuuki Reitaisai’’ is one of the most spectacular Reitaisai in Japan because it has a parade that goes through the beautiful area in the mountains. As this festival is in the middle of October, you will have an excellent opportunity to admire the autumn foliage in the mountains. The view from the Mt. Takao observatories is breathtaking. You will see whole Tokyo from above standing on a cloud of colorful autumn leaves.
The parade starts at the traditional teahouse – ‘‘Jyuichi-chome chaya’’ and ends at the ‘‘Yakuou-in’’ Buddhist temple. The temple has Shinto architecture. It embraces both the Shinto and Buddhist religion. Yakuou-in monks take part in the parade as well. Children also join and dress up for the festivity wearing special Shinto uniforms. There is a marching band from the local kindergarten, geisha girls, and Shinto followers. The parade consists of hundreds of people and takes almost half an hour.
There are many things to do at this festival. During the parade’s break, it’s possible to take photos together with the monks, geisha girls and others. In the main building of the Yakuou-in temple, you can pray for your health, happiness or anything else.
If you’d like to be a part of the celebration, you can ask for blessings of cars and their drivers to promote traffic safety. To receive a blessing, you should call the temple directly before the festival to make an appointment.
Takaosan Yakuo-in Yukiji, commonly called Yakuo-in, is a Buddhist temple and shrine complex established on Mt Takao when Emperor Shomu was ruling the country in 744. However, in the 14th century, Shungen Daitoku restored Yakuo-in and enshrined Izuna Daigongen diety. It protects from harm and combines attributes of five deities. For detailed information, please check the official website of the temple. It is available in English.
The temple is also famous for its Tengu statues. Tengus are the messengers of God who punish evil. The statue of ‘‘大天狗(Daitengu)’’ is believed to bring good fortune. It also has a giant gate – ‘‘四天王門(Shitennoumon)’’ which protects the temple.
The ‘‘八大竜王堂 (Hachidairyuou)” statue made of gold is famous for bringing financial luck. People believe that if you wash your money in the clear water that wells up at his feet and use that money for starting your business, you will get a big profit.
Several tea houses are serving Japanese sesame sweets like sweet rice dumplings, soft sesame ice cream, and more.
Date: 17th of October around 11 am every year
Place: Yakuo-in Temple
Address: 2177 Takao-machi, Hachioji City, Tokyo
Official Page of the temple: http://www.takaosan.or.jp/english/events.html (The Reitaisai is not on the official page, but you can check other events of this temple)
You can take a train from ‘‘Shinjuku’’ station in Tokyo to ‘‘Takaosan’’ station on Keio line or JR Chuo line. It takes about 50 minutes. From ‘‘Takaosan’’ station you can go up the mountains on foot which takes about 40 minutes. Also, take there is a cable car station just two minutes walk from the start point at the teahouse.
If you go there by car, there are two main car parking with plenty of space near the starting point.
Mt. Takao received three stars in the 2017 Michelin Guide. Why don’t you try something else in the mountains?
Hiking at Mt. Takao
There are several tracks for climbing and hiking which vary in difficulty. It has an elevation of 599 meters, and on the way to the top, you can enjoy the view of beautiful colored trees during autumn. If the weather is nice, you might be able to see Mt. Fuji!
There is a public bathhouse called ‘‘極楽湯(Gokurakuyu)’’ by ‘‘高尾山口(Takaosanguchi)’’ station. You can take a bath after your hike and feel relaxed!
Takao 599 Museum
There is also a museum free of charge – ‘‘Takao 599 Museum’’. The museum introduces the ecology, history and culture of Takao region.
Visiting the festival is an unforgettable experience and autumn is one of the best seasons to visit this mountain! You can see Japan’s stunning nature, and it provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture. The temple is easy to access by public transport or car and very close to Tokyo. The combination of a traditional festival, authentic Japanese architecture, and mesmerizing autumn colors will provide you with an unforgettable experience!
If you would like a local guide to accompany you during this festival, show you hidden spots, and tell you even more about local culture, please check the banner below!
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