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Tuesday, 9th September 2014
In Events In Japan,

Oeshiki festival gears up

If you're lucky enough to be in Japan for the weekend of October 11th, you won't be wanting for things to do, as the Oeshiki Festival will be taking place across the country.

Commemorating the anniversary of the death of Nichiren, revered Buddhist teacher who lived during the Kamakura period until around 730 years ago, it is one of the few events that are acknowledged across the entirety of the country at the same time.

While every temple has its own special way of remembering Nichiren, the most impressive ceremony is held every year at the Ikegami Honmonji temple in Tokyo. The three-day extravaganza sees crowds jam into the courtyards of the sacred building, with huge parades of mando lanterns led up to the doors.

The processions are accompanied by people carrying matoi, which are the renowned poles carried by firemen during the Edo period to rally people together. Music from walking bands with percussionists and flautists is also very common.

On the evening of October 12, people march with their lanterns from the Ikegami Station to the temple, winding in and out of the intricate streets on a journey that measures approximately two kilometers. Some 300,000 attendees generally turn up.

The courtyard of the Ikegami Honmonji temple itself is illuminated as night falls, providing a spectacular venue that is decorated with artificial cherry blossoms - which themselves serve as a cultural reminder that life, while short, is extremely beautiful.

Those who wish to see the festival are advised to arrive early so that they can watch the procession with a good view. If you're unlucky enough to miss the Oeshiki matsuri, it's always worth checking the festival calendar as Japan's many shrines and temples are always throwing celebrations.