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Traditional Festivals

Sakai, City of History and Tradition,
Inheriting passion for tradition and passing Sakai's unique culture on to the next generation,

"Otondo" or Great Bonfire (at Ebaraji Temple): January 15

Otondo

The tondo bonfire is traditionally held to pray for sound health. The flames of Otondo, or Great Bonfire, held at Ebaraji Temple, reach as high as five meters.

Manto-e (at Hounji Temple): August 15

Manto-e

Manto-e is a traditional event to pray for good health, offering lamplights to the spirit of all things. On the evening of Obon (August 15), over 1,000 lanterns are lit,carrying devout prayers of lantern donors. The temple precinst is covered with a surreal beauty.

"Tsukimi" Festival or Moon Viewing Festival (Futon Daiko) (Mozu Hachimangu Shrine):

Tsukimi" Festival or Moon Viewing Festival (Futon Daiko)

It is said that prayers for good harvest, combined with the customs of celebrating the full moon, made the shrine's "Tsukimi" festival. The record says it has a long history of more than 300 years. About four meters high and weighting about three tons, the Futon Daiko consists of a platform with a taiko drum, on top of which are five overlapping layers of vermillion cushions. About 70 people carry the Futon Daiko, with their unique shouts of "bera-bera-bera-sho-shoi" mixing with the sound of the drum as they proceed through towns. Afterward, the drum is dedicated to the shrine. During the two-day festa, 150,000 visitors in total come to see the stirring spectacle.

Futon Daiko: Early September to Early October

Ko-odori (Sakurai Shrine): First Sunday of October

Ko-odori

Held at Sakurai Shrine, the Ko-odori dance festival is said to have originated as a rain-making prayer dance. Today the festival has been designated as an intangible Folk-Cultural Asset. The humorous dance, performed by 17 dancers dressed as demons and long-nosed tengu goblins, has been passed down from generation to generation since the Kamakura period. The dance is first presented at the site of the Kuni Shrine, then it heads toward Sakurai Shrine. The procession of dancers singing religious songs looks like as if it were in the fairytale world.

"Danjiri"(Float) Festival: Early to mid October

This stirring, energetic festival features the pulling of a heavy float called danjiri. It boasts a long history and tradition.

"Yassaihossai" (Iwatsuta Shrine): December 14

Yassaihossai

Yassaihossai includes a ritual where 108 bundles of firewood are burnt in front of the shrine's altar for "Fire-Walk". It is said that wood embers could be good charms against evil spirit if they are brought home.

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