Osaka is historically known as a merchant city, for it served as the center of the rice trade back in the Edo Period. This was known as the Doujima Rice Exchange, and ran from 1697 until it desolved entirely in 1939 - Meaning it finished just 78 years ago after 242 years running, and basically created the foundation for the modern banking system of Japan today.
Now that we have established Osaka’s roots briefly as the merchant city of Japan, let’s get to the theme of today’s entry - Toka Ebisu Matsuri. Ebisu, or Ebessan as it’s called by the locals of Kansai, is one of the 7 Gods of Fortune in Japan. Businessmen, entrepreneurs, restaurant owners and the like all gather at the several shrines within Osaka dedicated to the Japanese deity Ebisu.
Carrying the fukusasa or lucky bamboo branch, fortune seekers approach young Miko (Shrine Maiden) who construct their good luck charm for the year. Once the year has ended, the bamboo branch is brought back to the shrine from whence it came, burnt with a blessing by the head priest and the process restarts again.
Rei Hino from Sailor Moon was a shrine maiden! I’m a big Sailor Moon fan, so I always love and get excited seeing Miko.
The festival begins January 9th, peaks January 10th and finishes January 11th, bringing about 1 million people searching for their pot of luck. The biggest celebration happens at Imamiya Ebisu Shrine, located 3 min walk from Nankai Shin-Imamiya Station, or a 10-15min walk from Dotonbori Bridge, where the giant Glico running man is located centre of downtown Namba.
Today most the Glams team and I made our way over to our local Ebessan shrine named Sugawara Shrine, and hoped for a prosperous new year.
Of course there’s always someone causing mischief…
I hope your 2017 will bring you much luck and prosperity, if you’re not sure you can always ask for a little nudge in the right direction from Ebessan!