Goldfish Lantern Festival – Enjoy a Feast of Adorable Lanterns in Yamaguchi
In the south of Honshu, there lies the small town of Hofu which lights up once a year with its celebration of a more than 1000-year-old religious history and dedication to a god of old. Of course, I’m talking about the Summer Tenman-gu Shrine Birthday Festival, which is all about going out with a bang in the heat of summer, and is true when the town comes to life!!
Tenman-gu Shrine itself is dedicated to the Shinto god of learning and science “Sugawara no Michizane” （菅原道真公）, also famous for Tenman Tenjin, and was the first temple dedicated to this god, by order of the Emperor himself.
The Summer Tenman-gu Shrine Birthday Festival is in celebration of the birth of this god, “Sugawara no Michizane”, and takes place on the two days leading up to and the day of his birth, culminating in the climax of the festival, a massive display of more than 4000 fireworks!
For the main fireworks display, there is synchronized music and laser displays as well, making for a show renowned throughout Japan, with up to 30,000 people attending each year.
As mentioned, this is, in fact, a three-day festival, which means that much in the style of a traditional Japanese summer festival, there are various competitions to take in, performances to see, and stall foods and goods to try and sample!
As mentioned there are many performances that take place over the three days of the festival for you to be stunned by, including traditional Japanese drum and religious performances have taken throughout the town as well!
There are also events that you can participate in through the festival, just one example of which includes a tea ceremony event, although of course these change each year.
On the 3rd and final night, there is a lit candle display throughout the town, for which about 2000 candles are lit to welcome visitors to temple, leading from the street off to the main staircase of the temple and up to the main hall of the temple. And of course, there is the grand climax of the festival, a 40-minute fireworks show that is sure to dazzle!
Dates: The Summer Tenman-gu Shrine Birthday Festival is, as mentioned above, a 3-day festival held from the 3rd to 5th of August in honor of the deified “Sugawara no Michizane” who was born on June 25th of the Japanese lunar calendar, in the year 845 AD, which corresponds to August 5th. The fireworks display starts at 8:30pm and continues until about 9:15 on the final day of the festival.
Place: Tenman-gu Shrine
Address: 14-1 Matsuzakicho, Hofu, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Access: Hofu is in Yamaguchi prefecture, which itself is at the southernmost point of the main Japanese island of Honshu, is approximately 1.5-2hrs from the regional centers of either Hiroshima or Fukuoka via train, accessible via the JR Sanyo Main Line.
Tenman-gu Shrine is a 15-minute walk from JR Hofu Train Station.
– It is a beautiful mountainside park and garden. From the top of which you can see all the way to the islands of Kyushu and Shikoku. The mountain has many plazas to enjoy
– A chain of three islands full of camps and keen fishermen throughout the summer.
– A beautiful garden in the style of the Meiji and Taisho periods of early Imperial Japan.
– Constructed under Emperor Shomu in the year 741 AD, as one of many Kokubunji Temples. The temple is of such history that it is famous as a national historic site.
– A solar-themed science center with permanent and seasonal exhibitions, as well as free science campaigns and science shows on weekends and holidays, and finally the largest solar telescope in western Japan, which is open on sunny days.
The Summer Tenman-gu Shrine Birthday Festival is one of the liveliest Japanese festivals around, and a great way to enjoy a high-energy Japanese summer!
Even within Japan which is famous for its firework and festival culture, the Tenman-gu fireworks show is quite the sight, and definitely something I don’t think you’ll get almost anywhere else in Japan!
So if you’re after someone to show you around the beautiful Nofu, as well as the bombastic Tenman-gu Festival, and let you in on the other historical secrets that the town has to offer, just check below!
All images are courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation
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A lot of people when they get to a Matsuri for the first time feel a bit lost. They confuse about what is happening around. If you are new to Japanese Festivals or want to know an alternative way of how you can enjoy these events, the following article will provide you with a set of helpful tips on how to choose a proper festival and activities you should try there. Please don`t hesitate to take a look at it!
Image courtesy of Tomomarusan
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