Tenjin Festival

24 Jul 2017
Tenmangu Shrine, Osaka

Experience Japanese tradition at the annual Tenjin Matsuri festival, a two-day event of parades, performers and fireworks that brings over 3,000 people to the city of Osaka.

  • When? 24th July 2017
  • Where? Tenmangu Shrine, Osaka
  • Price: Free

If you've done more raving than revising in the lead up to exams then you might need a bit of luck on your side. Forget green-glad leprechauns though; Japan has a far more interesting solution. Tenjin Matsuri is a celebration of the Tenmangu Shrine and its deity Sugawara Michizane, a scholar, poet and politician of the Heian period. The shrine was built on his grave and is popular amongst students who visit for good luck in exams as Michizane was an iconic figure of education. 

During the festival, the spirit of the deity is invited out of the shrine in a special ceremony. He is then paraded around the city, led by red-hatted drummers, to watch all manner of extravagant performances and festivities that keep him entertained on his journey. Costumed characters such as Sarutahiko, a slightly scary long-nosed goblin riding a horse, pop up amongst the crowds as well as colourful lion dancers and musicians. Locals enjoy dressing up in costumes that replicate the imperial-court style of the 8th to 12th centuries to pay homage to their countries history.

As the evening arrives, the parade moves onto the water. The river procession includes stage boats featuring captivating noh and bunraku performancers which keep the audience entertained before the spectacular firework display begins. Don't forget to sample some of the festival food from vendors that pitch up along the river. 

The mikoshi convoy carrying the spirit of Sugawara Michizane returns to the shrine late in the evening to signal the end of the festivities. Be sure to follow the procession back to the shrine to take part in the Osaka-style handclapping that closes the festival, with around 3,000 people joining together to return the spirit of Sugawara Michizane to his resting place. Stay for the duration of the event if you can as the return trip is beautifully ethereal. 

Tenjin Matsuri is considered to be one of the 'three greatest festivals' in Japan. Get involved in the celebration by dressing up and marching with the crowds if you want an truly authentic Japanese experience. You can thank us for the A grade later (make ours a G&T).

  • Get there: The nearest stops on public transport are Osakatemmangu Station and Minami-Morimachi Station.
  • Stay: Book accommodation in Kita Ward to be nearby.

*We do our very best to verify the dates of our events but please check with the official event provider before booking your flights. We would hate for you to be disappointed!