Tenjin Matsuri 2012

I went to Tenjin Matsuri (天神祭) in Osaka again this year!
This year the festival was on July 24th and 25h. Every year the festival is held around Tenmabashi station area and events are centered around the river and Tenmangu Shrine.

I have been to Tenjin Matsuri in the past, multiple times in fact, but I can’t seem to find any past blog entries about it here on JapanNewbie. Maybe I never got around to blogging it!

Tenjin Matsuri is one of the “big three” festivals in Japan (日本三大祭り). The other two festivals in the big three are Gion Festival (祇園祭) in Kyoto, and Kanda Festival (神田祭) in Tokyo.

Tenjin Maturi 2012

  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. Not all Japanese food is healthy.
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. Tenjin Matsuri is one of those festivals that ends in a fireworks display!
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. These boats filled with drumming and dancing are the main event at this festival.
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. The river is lined with food stalls.
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. Catch live turtles with a hoop that has a thin sheet of paper in it. You can catch as many as you can until the paper breaks.
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. Cucumber on a stick! With salt! Delicous summer snack.
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. Various fruits covered in sugary goodness.
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012

There are lots of festivals in Japan. Lots. Most have a deep cultural history and have been practiced for centuries. According to the Japanese Wikipedia entry for Tenjin Matsuri, this festival started in the year 951 on June 1st.

Most festivals take place during the summer, so if you are ever going to be in Japan between June and August it would be in your best interest to try to figure out where the festivals are happening and try to attend a few.

Festivals are great. Here are some things that you will be able to experience at most Japanese festivals, beyond the cultural and historical aspects!

1. Festivals are a chance to wear your summer yukata and hit the town.

If you go to a festival you’ll be able to see the latest Yukata fashions for both men and women. These days it seems that a particular style of “sexy” yukata is popular among the ladies… Most adults hate it. Basically girls these days wear their yukatas in ways that they were not meant to be worn. Some have them draped off of both shoulders! Too sexy! I mean, I’m not complaining, but it is certainly not the traditional way to wear a summer yukata.

2. Festivals are an excuse to stay out relatively late and drink on the street.

The streets are usually blocked off for festivals and tons of food vendors are out selling their wares. Also, it’s legal to drink on the street in Japan, so you can grab a beer and go about your business. I believe that during some of the larger festivals the train schedules are adjusted in some cities to allow people to get home a little later than normal. Regardless, usually the festivals have some big event with a scheduled end time, and they stick to the schedule. Tenjin Matsuri had a fireworks display that ended promptly at 9pm.

3. A chance to try lots of delicious (yet not cheap) Japanese festival food!

I posted pictures of some of the festival food in that SmugMug gallery. As you can see, not all Japanese food is healthy. It’s a lot of fun though! Some of the typical festival snacks that I did not take photos of include yakisoba, okonomiyaki, also a festival dish called hashimaki, which is basically okonomiyaki wrapped around a pair of chopsticks. They also serve various forms of fruit and meat on a stick. Castela is also popular, which is a sort of bite-sized cake. Gotta love it.

Video Clip, Click to Play
Video Clip, Click to Play

So what are your favorite things about Japanese festivals? Got any favorites?

One festival I have never been to yet really need to try is Neputa Matsuri up north!

Looking forward to the next festival!

Related links:
The official Tenjin Matsuri webpage.
Tenjin Matsuri Japanese Wiki page.
Kishiwada Danjiri Mastsuri from 2007
Handa Matsuri from 2004
Hamamatsu Kite Festival from 2008

And more! Just search the blog for “matsuri” or “festival” and I’m sure more will come up!

By the way, I store all my photos and videos with SMUGMUG now. It’s really great. Unlimited storage. No limits on the size of the files that can be uploaded. Awesome privacy settings and whatnot. I can even embed the stuff into WordPress easily as you can see here. Anyway, if you try it sign up with my introduction link here and I’ll get $10 bucks credit towards my renewal. Yay!