Annual Events at Itsukushima Shrine

Bugaku

The dances and music (gagaku) brought to Japan via India, China, and Korea. They took root here when Taira-no-Kiyomori relocated the Imperial Music Agency from Shitenno-ji temple in Osaka. Today, more than twenty pieces are played on rotation at festivals each month.

Momote Festival

A rite held on January 20 each year that involves shooting arrows at demons. A special offering of food called "hohan" made from stewed foods offered to gods is presented. The name, which literally means "hundred hands" comes from the 200 arrows (2 each for 100 people) that are shot in the Oyumi Hajime ("First Shooting") archery ceremony.

Kangen-sai

One of Japan's Three Great Boat Festivals, musicians playing "kangen" (classical court music) sail on boats from the island and to other shrines around it. It originated from nobles in the capital enjoying musical performances from boats, and became a Shinto ritual to comfort the gods. It is held on the 17th of the 6th month in the old lunar calendar, so its date changes each year.

Tamatori-sai

When the tide is full, near-naked young men compete to grab a camphor-wood orb about 15 cm in diameter in this dynamic festival. As it depends on the tide, the date changes each year.

Chinka-sai

A festival to pray to avoid fire disasters, and locals also take part. Torches, large and small, are carried out from local houses and lit from a large torch from the shrine. Then they run here and there across the beach with their torches. It takes place on Mikasa Beach in front of Itsukushima Shrine starting at 6 p.m. on New Year's Eve.

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