- Tenjin matsuri
- The tenjin matsuri of the Osaka tenman-gu which takes place on July 24-25th is regarded as one of the three great festivals of Japan and is dedicated to the spirit of Sugawara, Michizane or Tenjin. It is a natsu matsuri (summer festival) which developed in the sixteenth century with the growth of Osaka as a mercantile centre and includes a parade of mikoshi through the city (rikutogyo) accompanied by music called danjiri-bayashi, namely hayashi performed on small festival floats (danjiri). The rhythm of this music is described in Japanese as 'kon-kon-chiki-chin'. The mikoshi transfer to an evening floating procession (funatogyo) with lanterns and firework displays along the Dojima river which flows through the city. In the nineteenth century the river pageant comprised up to 200 boats, although in recent times the number has dropped to less than a hundred. Each carries a 'doll' more than six feet high representing a character from a traditional joruri (ballad-drama). The procession includes a moyoshi-daiko; a mikoshi carrying an enormous drum (taiko) played by teams of six men. There are four groups of eight geisha (otome) and a consecrated child (shindo) who walks before the palanquin of the guji (chief priest) carrying the branch of plum tree used to transfer the spirit (mitama) of Michizane from the honden of the shrine to his mikoshi. The procession also includes a chi-no-wa (reed circle) carried on a palanquin. By extension, tenjin matsuri means festivals held at the same time at ten thousand or so Kitano tenjin shrines throughout Japan. Many feature exhibitions of calligraphy since Tenjin is the kami of scholarship.
A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Brian Bocking.