January 15, 2012

Blow away stagnation with bamboo branches!

Now who  is needed the most  all over the world? It must be him, Ebisu who is the deity of flourishing business.
 Smile , smile, smile, smiling Ebisu!

A beckoning cat is inviting a good luck!

The 10th of January is the festival of Ebisu, the deity of the prosperous business.  A number of  people rush to Ebisu shrine to get Ebisu's lucky bamboo branches which are believed to invite financial luck and drive away stagnation. All over Japan, there are a lot of Ebisul shrines.

Here is Imamiya Ebisu Shrine (今宮戎神社) in Osaka,
one of the biggest Ebisu shrines in Japan. 

People  throw some  money as offering.
 People are waiting in line to buy  auspicious ornaments to attach to the bamboo branches 
from 福むすめ or  Fuku-musume, meaning  lucky maidens.
Fuku-musume are temporary shrine maidens to bless visitors.. 

 As it is very honourable to be chosen as Fukumusume, every year there are a number of surging candidates.  And 40 among them are chosen besides 5 foreign students. They are the most important icons of the festival!

The auspicious ornaments are money pouches, oval gold coins, portable fans, sea breams, straw bags for rice and so on.
It is a fun to choose lucky ornaments with advices of Fuku-musume who attach them to the bamboo branches.
Let's rake up good luck with this rake!

Why are they dabbing a round place?? This is one of two  which symbolise the ears of Ebisu. According to one theory, Ebisu  is hard of hearing. People want to make sure to let Ebisu know their visiting to pray to him for prosperous business. Some of them even attach
 the name cards or stickers of their companies. I am sure Ebisu  grands their wishes very soon.

Let's go home with a great luck!

For your reference:
Bamboo branches are called 福笹, lucky bamboo made of branches of "Moso" bamboo but not of bush bamboo. Moso bamboo has enormous energy to grow. It is said that overnight it grows more than 90cm.
Since ancient days, bamboo has been mentioned in the literature, art, poems and used  for traditional handicrafts. People have even believed that divinity resides in bamboo trees because of their purity, constancy, patience, energy of life, fertility and more which they possess. "The story of Princess Kaguya" or "The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter"  is said to have been created based on the mysterious power of the bamboo trees.


  1. Lovely maidens selling bamboo helping to prosper during the next year - until the next 10th of January.
    Great story, nice pics from a very different world. Thank you for sharing!

  2. These are beautiful photos with lots of great colour. It doesn't look very cold there so I'm curious what is the temperature this month?
    I love bamboo. I think it is a very pretty plant. I grew some in my garden but didn't realize that it's roots take up all the space so I sadly had to remove it. It is better to plant on in a box rather than in the ground here. Maybe I will do that next year.

  3. the expressions you've captured are so beautiful and priceless. each woman has a different emotion depicted on her face (in your new header image). lovely. thanks for sharing Keiko. your world is spectacular.

  4. 寒い冬も、不景気も吹っ飛んでしまいそうな、にぎやかな、大阪のえびす祭り。元気の良い雰囲気が伝わって来ます!今大阪におられるのですか?
    Have a great day!

  5. I enjoy hearing of these festivals in the Japanese culture. The Fukumusume maidens are lovely - and I believe I spot one of the foreign students. May the Japanese people prosper in 2012 and recover from the tragedies of 2011.

  6. What excitement in the air! I’m always so impressed with your post like on-the-spot broadcasting, snowwhite. As a native to Kobe, I’m accustomed to Nishinomiya Ebisu and I chanted the phrase 商売繁盛で笹もってこい since the time I didn’t know the meaning as a very young child. I wish sacred bamboo branches spread a wave of prosperity worldwide according to its invasive nature together with Fukumusume’s as well as Ebessan’s contagious smiles.

  7. Great to see you back blogging again. Will you take part in the Nara photo competition?

    Even after living here for so long, I continue to be amazed at how superstitious Japanese people are. Businessmen vote for politicians who create an environment that makes it difficult for business to flourish, and then once a year they go to the Ebisu shrine and pray for good luck. Mind-boggling!

  8. とっても、にぎやかで華やかな行事ですね。みんな楽しそうですし、福たくさん来るといいですね。

  9. 主人は毎年必ず行くみたいです。そりゃあ こんな威勢のいい雰囲気を味わえれば、気分は盛り上がりますよね。熱気がムンムンと伝わります。「夢よ、消えないで!」ですよね。

  10. Our company went to receive blessings from the Shrine when we started working this year. I love to learn about our culture and all the reasons for the traditions that we hold. The fuku-musume are all so pretty! I'm sure much needed luck will be passed on to the people. Gorgeous photos as always!

    Hope you are doing well and keeping warm during this cold month!

  11. Lily,
    Yes, they are very pretty! May dark clouds of stagnation be wiped out!

    It was a fair but very cold day. Usually we have icy,cold weather in January. The highest and lowest temperatures are -1 and 9 C today in Nara. In Ebisu shrine, I felt as if the hot fume of enthusiasm of visitors were swirling here and there.

    I was never tired of taking photos of Fuku-musume. Swirls of colors and enthusiasm. It was as if spring were there.

    Red Rose,
    大阪は育ったところなのでよく行きます。 今宮戎は初めてですが、熱気には本当に驚きました。

    In my header there is one foreign student. Other two students are in the blog. This festival is becoming international!

    I also have been familiar with this chanting “もってこい、もってこい、笹もってこい、商売繁盛で笹もってこい” since I was a little kid. But don’t you think this phrase is something wrong in Japanese grammar. Because people get bamboo branches here and bring them back, so “持って来い” sounds funny. I asked one of the concerned in the shrine. He agreed with me, but he said he did not know why.

    There seems to be a blurry thin line among religious legends, superstitions, customs or traditions or so on. But often they are overlapping and mixing. I suppose “Visiting Ebisu Shrine” is similar to “Visiting a temple or a shrine on New Year’s Day. I think it is the custom or tradition rather than superstition. As you said, it is ironical the businessmen vote for wrong politicians and visit Ebisu Shrine to pray for prosperous business.



    I visited Ebisu Shrine in Nara also. But I really thought Osaka is the commercial center and the town for businessmen!!

    Thanks a lot for visiting and leaving wonderful comments.

  12. PS
    Oh, I want to join the Nara Photo competition!! What is it??

  13. This is another great story complete with beautiful pictures. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  14. 若いお嬢さん達の可愛い笑顔が恵比寿顔に見えて、元気がもらえます。関西はどんな時でも前向きで、やっぱいいなぁ~ 祖父母の住む街にあった西宮のえべっさんへは子供の頃、良く行きました。昔はおどろおどろしい見世物小屋があったのが忘れられません。

  15. I know the word 商売繁盛で笹もってこい.
    But I didn't know Fukumusumes attach ornaments or a rake to rake up good luck.
    I still keep a rake that father-in-law brought to our house long ago for it's pretty and I want to prosper. But the grace of Ebisu expires,I wonder?

  16. Anzu,

  17. This post is beautiful in every way!
    I love reading about the Japanese traditions and I have always been very fond of the lucky cat! ;-)
    I wish we had the festival of Ebisu in England. We could all do with some luck in business and wealth. The Fukumusume ladies are lovely and the whole festival seems to be a magical celebration.
    Thank you for sharing such an inspiring post.
    Many Blessings,

  18. cordially greet lovely blog:))

  19. Thank you so much for this fabulous post along with gorgeous photos! Oh You visited the Imamiya Yebisu!! I've never been to the shrine because Nishinomiya Yebisu is much nearer. I love the colorful decorations of tai, sasa, darumas and so on there on its festive days. The vivid colors make me feel happy. 今年は欧州危機や日本もいろいろあって大変ですが、なんとか景気回復してほしいですね。

  20. joanne, sapphire,

    May people's wishes be granted very soon. And I hope I can smale every day like Ebisu!

  21. These are specially delightful pictures, full of happiness and hope. I really get the feeling of people wishing for luck and other people feeling lucky. I wish we had festivals like this in England, but I can't think of anything like this, really. Your pictures are particularly nice, full of life. It looks quite warm, too, and with the bamboo's green leaves, winter seems far away.

  22. Hello, snowwhite.

      Your work is embraced in your gentleness.
      Smiles of mediums are very lovely.
    The cheer is good for the New Year.

      Thank you for the warmth of your heart.

      The prayer for all peace.   
    Have a good weekend. ruma ❃

  23. What lovely, happy shots that just raise the spirits with their joy.

  24. What a cool festival! I'm going to have to check that story out. My husband loves bamboo--he wants to grow it. Thanks for popping by Friday! :)

  25. Great entry. I did not know that Fuku musume are so international and you captured them so well:)
    Have a wonderful day,

  26. What a fun festival! The maidens are very pretty – don’t they ever get some nice looking males too? I love bamboo and especially walking through a bamboo grove. The last time I did was on a Native Indian Reservation where there were tall bamboos (the picture is in this post http://avagabonde.blogspot.com/2010/04/cherokee-indian-art-market.html.) Thanks for showing us the great festivals in your country.

  27. I've heard of lucky bamboo but never of Ebisu. Thanks for another interesting insight into your culture.

  28. This looks such a different and fun filled festival. The girls look so cheerful and happy, their smiles are infectious!!
    Thanks for sharing these lovely nuggets from your country.
    I am just slowly getting back to blogging, hope you are having a wonderful week:)

  29. I am Sicilian but my husband is Japanese. I will show him your blog. I am following you from Rome, Italy.

  30. Looks like one heck of fun filled celebration . Nice know about this festival.

  31. So who brings luck to fukumusume then? ^^

    It looks like Ebisu is smiling because of all the cute girls around him ;-)

  32. I am pleased to be here once again and catching up with your interesting posts. Our daughter has just been ski-ing in Japan and had a wonderful time.

  33. The festival is great, and its icons are so beatiful!


Thanks a lot for visiting my blog and leaving warm messages. I will visit your site soon. keiko