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Nikko Toshogu Reitaisai (Grand Festival)
Nikko Toshogu is a shrine established in 1617 to enshrine Ieyasu Tokugawa, the first shogun who established Edo bakuhu (a samurai government). The complex is registered as a World Heritage site that consists of valuable buildings including eight national treasures and 34 important cultural properties. Reitaisai (Grand Festival) is held every May and October at Nikko Toshogu. This festival has a long history of more than 400 years. Among many events held during the festival time, the main event is Hyakumono-zoroi Sennin Musha Gyoretsu (procession of the 1000 samurai). This faithful reproduction of the daimyo (feudal lord) procession in Edo period attracts many visitors from within the country and abroad.
- 2301 Sannai, Nikko-shi, Tochigi
- Contact No.
- From Tobu-asakusa station, take the express train Kegon. Get off at Tobu-nikko station. Take Tobu bus and get off at the bus stop Nishisando. Walk for a few min. From JR shinjuku station, take the express train Nikko on JR line and get off at Tobu-nikko station. Take Tobu bus and get off at the bus stop Nishisando. Walk for a few min.
- Official Website
- Time Required
- Half a day
- Spring Grand Festival: every year May 17, 18; Autumn Grand Festival: every year October 16, 17
※ Some information is displayed in Japanese and machine-translated English, which may not be accurate.
For the latest information, please check the official website for each spot.
Yabusame Shinji (horseback archery)
The grand festival lasts for two days both in spring and autumn. Yabusame Shinji (horseback archery) is held on the first day. Yabusame is a traditional event of samurai culture. The archer shoots whistling arrows from a galloping horse. More than 10 archers demonstrate Yabusame at the festival.
Hyakumono-zoroi Sennin Musha Gyoretsu (procession of the 1000 samurai)
When Ieyasu Tokugawa’s died, his soul was believed to have transformed into God. Many people walked in a great procession to transfer his soul to Toshogu. Hyakumono-zoroi Sennin Musha Gyoretsu faithfully reproduces the procession at that time. The procession has a portable shrine in the center and 1200 attendants of 53 categories around it. It departs from Futarasan-jinja and goes up to Toshogu.
Ceremony at Otabisho
Otabisho is a place where the portable shrine is temporarily rested. The God takes rest here waiting for the ceremony. The ceremony starts with offering special food called “Sanbondate Nanaju Gozen” for the God. This is followed by two traditional sacred dances, “Yaotome no Mai” and “Azuma-asobi.”
Return to Toshogu
The procession leaves Otabi-sho and proceeds to Toshogu. The heavy 1200 kg portable shrine carried all the way by 55 people now returns to Toshogu. The whole festival lasts only two and a half hours. It’s not a long time but it is worth seeing.