Toshogu Haru-No-Taisai

Toshogu Haru-No-Taisai (Great Spring Festival of the Toshogu Shrine)

May 17-18
This festival—also known as the Sennin Gyoretsu, or Procession of 1,000 People —provides the most spectacular display of ancient samurai costumes and weaponry in Japan. The Toshogu Shrine, in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, was built in 1617 to house the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616), the first of the Tokugawa shoguns. The festival originated in honor of the reburial of Ieyasu in the new mausoleum.
On the first day of the festival, dignitaries and members of the Tokugawa family make offerings to the deities of the shrine. Also on this day, warriors on horseback shoot at targets with bows and arrows. On the morning of May 18 more than 1,000 people take part in the procession from Toshogu to Futarasan Shrine, including hundreds of samurai warriors with armor, helmets, and weaponry. Also marching are priests with flags; men with stuffed hawks representing huntsmen; men in fox masks to honor the fox spirits that protect the shrine; and musicians with drums and bells.
CONTACTS:
Tochigi Prefecture
1-1-20 Hanawada
Utsunomiya, Tochigi 320-8501 Japan
81-2-8623-3165; fax: 81-2-8623-2199
www.pref.tochigi.jp/intro/gaikokugo/english/englis
SOURCES:
GdWrldFest-1985, p. 123
JapanFest-1965, p. 33