December 18, 2009

The Biggest Shinto Festival in Nara

The deity of Young Prince Shrine in Kasuga Grand Shrine travels once a year. Every year on December 17th, he moves to a temporally built traveling place (1 kilometer to the west of Young Prince Shrine) to stay there, and goes back in 24 hours.

While his staying in the traveling place, people offer a variety of performances in front of him to please him. He enjoys entertainment of the people behind the bamboo curtain.

In the 12th century, the country was suffering a long period of rain which caused a serious famine. People invited Young Prince to the traveling place to ask him for help. This is the origin of Honorable Festival dedicated to him. This festival is the biggest festival in Nara and is famous for the traditional procession.

Can you guess what they are doing in the procession? A hint is that many horses also are joining the procession.

Maybe even Shinto deity is tired of daily routines and needs to travel. Some Shinto deities are much like human-beings. They love, fight, get sad and happy. In many ways, Shinto deities are compared to Greek gods and goddesses. It's interesting there are many similarities in both Japanese and Greek mythologies.

note: Shinto is a indigenous religion based on nature worship in Japan.


  1. The left side person carries something like scoop. I guess the right side person carries
    the garbage can of horses' dropping? Sorry if my answer is off the point.

  2. to cosmos
    You are right. As processions are very traditional, they look funny. I didn't expect so many horses were joining the festifval and playing an important role.

  3. Several years ago, when I went to Nara Park to see the festival processions, I just run into a horse which was dunging and caretakers picked them up quickly! Visitors were laughing out! The horse might enliven the atmosphere of the festival !?

  4. to lily
    It must have been hurmoruous! I wonder what those horses are doing during the off season.

  5. I like festival.
    But my hometown's festival isn't much.


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