If you're down on your luck then get to Toka Ebisu Festival in Osaka for good fortune, business success and the chance to get your hands on some lucky charms.
If your life-long dream is to be on The Apprentice then we've got a sure fire way for you to end up as Lord Sugar's BFF. Osaka's Toka Ebisu Festival is the celebration of Ebisu, the patron god of commerce and success in business - perfect if you're a budding entrepreneur.
Although the festival may sound like a slightly unusual celebration, it is a popular and well attended event. It is held at many different shrines across Japan but one of the biggest celebrations is at the Imamiya Ebisu Shrine in the south of Osaka city centre. Around one million people visit the shrine during this January festival, many of whom come to seek good fortune and commercial success. Many visitors carry bamboo branches, which are often decorated with items that are considered lucky, including gold coins, rice and (somewhat bizarrely) sea bream; tradition says it will bring prosperity to those who carry it.
Dating back to the Edo Period (which ran between the 17th and 19th centuries), part of the festival's emphasis on business and trade is down to it historically being a commercially minded market town. A popular event with people of all ages, the event's main celebration takes place on January 10th - be warned though, it's also the busiest day.
The night before, January 9th, is known as the Eve of Ebisu and is the official opening of festivities which are followed on the 10th by the spectacular Good Luck Palanquin Parade. Cameras at the ready, this showbiz extravaganza features no less than 600 celebrities, geisha and fuku-musume (good luck girls) who give out trinkets and tokens said to bring success and fortune. If you're an early riser there is also a sea bream fish market (a meal staple during times of celebration) as well as dozens of stalls selling charms including duruma dolls.
The day after the main event (the 11th) is known as 'the last helping of luck' and is your final chance to cash in on the Toka Ebisu Festival's good fortune. We'll take attending a cultural festival in Japan over being in the boardroom with the Sugar-Man any day of the week. Let's face it, we'd definitely get fired anyway.
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