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One of the most delightful aspects of visiting the Kansai region in the summertime is the wide range of festivals taking place. Among these, one of the biggest and most anticipated events is the Tenjin Festival in Osaka.
The Tenjin Festival or “Tenjin Matsuri”, which translates as Festival of the Gods, has a history stretching back more than 1,000 years, and is one of the oldest festivals in Japan. Tenjin also makes the claim to being the biggest boat festival in the world.
The festival parade includes more than 3,000 people dressed in imperial court attire from the 8th-12th centuries, and is a glorious spectacle. These same 3,000 impressively-dressed people board a line of more than 100 boats to perform a musical performance known as “Danjiri Bayashi.” There are also the usual shrine processions (known as “mikoshi”) going around town.
In the evening, an extravagant fireworks display takes place above the river. After the fireworks are over, the festival concludes with a traditional Osaka form of handclapping.
A festival of food
This event is renowned for its numerous food stands and stalls all along the riverside. You will certainly not struggle to find something tasty to eat. In fact, eating is one of the central parts of going to any festival in Japan - the Tenjin Festival is no exception. There are plenty of traditional Osakan foods to try, including okonomiyaki (a savoury pancake also known as “Japanese pizza”) and takoyaki (octopus balls) which taste much better than you’d think.
Precautions to take
Late July weather in Osaka is scorchingly hot so it’s easy to get sunburned. Make sure to bring ample sunscreen and wear a cap or hat. The streets can also become extremely crowded during the course of the day, making temperatures feel even higher. Staying hydrated throughout the day (drinking beer does not count) is key to avoiding possible adverse effects.
Where and when?
The Tenjin Festival takes place from July 24-25 every year. Most of the action is focused around the Tenmangu Shrine. The easiest way to get there is to ride the JR Tozai Line to Osaka Tenmangu station. Alternatively, you can take the subway (Tanimachi or Sakaisuji Lines) to Minami Morimachi station.
Need a guide?
If you would like a Japanese-speaking guide for this special day out, please contact us (link URL: http://www.kansaifixer.com/contact-kansai-fixer.html). Your guide will help you navigate the festival streets, explain its history and will even find you a prime viewing spot for the fireworks display.
The Ōsaka Tenman-gū Shrine, can be reached in a 3-minute walk from Minamimorimachi Station.
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