Nishinomiya Shrine in Nishinomiya city, Hyogo prefecture is the head shrine of the 3,500 Ebisu sect shrines in Japan. Every year, over a three-day period starting from the day before until the day after the 10th of January, a Toka-Ebisu Festival is held at each Ebisu sect shrine. Let’s take a look at the head shrine.
On the 8th of January, before the festival begins, offerings such as an exceptionally large tuna and a male and a female sea bream from Kobe city’s Eastern Marine Product Wholesale Cooperative Organization are set before the altar. As Ebisu, the deity, carries a sea bream and a fishing rod, a ceremony is held praying for big catches (of fish) and for prospering business.
At some point in the past, the custom of sticking monetary offerings on this ” big tuna inviting good luck” began, as it was believed it would bring good fortune. It has become one of the Nishinomiya Shrine’s specialties.
But it’s not just the tuna. You can see a row of offerings from businesses wishing for success.
You can see Ebisu on the upper right above the beer. He is the god also known for Ebisu beer. He is one of the Seven Gods of Fortune, and even within those deities, he is said to be the only one with origins in Japan. In his home area he is warmly called “Nishinomiya’s Ebessan”.
Another specialty of the Toka-Ebisu Festival is the selection for “Lucky Men” held on the 10th of January. From 6 AM, as this red gate is opened, worshippers rush inside and sprint the 230 meters to the main hall at full speed, aiming for the “best luck” or to be the “Luckiest Man”. The ritual opening of the gate is a distinctive scene at Nishinomiya’s Ebisu.
After visiting Ebessan, how about bringing back talismans that bring luck to your home, store or company? Rows of straw bags and koban (small former Japanese coin) that you can use to decorate a “lucky bamboo”.
… winnowing baskets for gathering up luck can be found at the stalls along the way.
Next to the main hall you can draw cute sea bream fortune slip charms.
During the festival, around 600 stalls peddling good luck items, etc. surround the shrine. The place is crowded from morning until evening.
While enjoying the festival mood, how about asking for peace and prosperity in your household and business prosperity at Ebbesan’s main shrine?
URL: http://nishinomiya-ebisu.com/ebisu/index.html (New Year and Toka-Ebisu special website – in Japanese)
Offering Ceremony of the Big Lucky Tuna, January 8th around 9.30 AM
Toka-Ebisu Festival Period: January 9th (Evening Ebisu), January 10th (Main Ebisu), January 11th (Remnant Luck)
By Car: During the festival, the parking area within the grounds cannot be used, and traffic regulations shall also be effected. Please use public transport.
By Train: A 5-minute walk from Ebisu exit of Hanshin Main line Nishinomiya station, an 8-minute walk from JR Kobe line Sakura-shukugawa station, or a 15-minute walk from Hankyu Kobe line Shukugawa station.
By Bus: During the festival there will be a special bus direct from Hankyu Nishinomiya North exit, Hankyu Shukugawa station and JR Nishinomiya station.
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Madoka Hori
Madoka Hori / Photo-writer Entrepreneurial translator/writer living in Hyogo. As a licensed English tour guide, she occasionally takes tourists to beautiful destinations such as Kobe, Himeji, Okayama, Kyoto, and Osaka and her clients have never got lost so far. On Setouchi Finder, as one of the original team members, she enjoys taking photos and sharing her favorite hidden gems. Private Photo Blog http://riderv328.tumblr.com Twitter https://twitter.com/Riderv328
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