Immerse yourself in traditional Japan from October 1st to 5th, 2023, at the annual Kitano Tenmangu Zuiki Festival. Known as a notable event in Kyoto’s October lineup, this festival captures the essence of cultural performances, religious ceremonies, and the vibrancy of Yaotome dancers.
During the Zuiki Festival, attendees can expect:
- October 1: A procession from Kitano Tenmangu Shrine to the Nishinokyo Tamagawa Shrine.
- October 4: A return procession from Tamagawa to Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.
For those keen on experiencing traditional rituals, the Zuiki Mikoshi (portable shrine) will be enshrined and stationed (Chūren) at the Tamagawa Shrine from October 1st to the morning of October 4th.
Zuiki Festival 2023 Schedule
While the event is set from October 1st (Sunday) to October 5th (Thursday) in 2023, attendees are encouraged to verify the schedule, especially considering potential changes due to COVID-19. For a detailed breakdown of events, you might want to refer to the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine’s official website.
A Quick Note On The Japan Rail Pass Price Hike
The price of the wonderful Japan Rail Pass is going up a massive 62% in October but there’s still time to lock in the old rates if you’re quick. Klook still offers the old prices so if you buy before September 30th you can travel with the old prices until December 28th, 2023.
About The Zuiki Festival
Originating during the reign of the 62nd Emperor, Emperor Murakami (946-967), the Zuiki Festival pays homage to the deity Sugawara no Michizane. Legend holds that this celebration began when a wooden statue carved by Michizane in Dazaifu was brought back by a divinity from Nishinokyo and worshipped. Every autumn harvest, the festival became an occasion for expressing gratitude by offering vegetables and grains.
Today, the festival continues as a grand ceremony, where deities of Kitano are welcomed in Nishinokyo, and a grand palanquin (zuiki mikoshi) is presented, offering heartfelt thanks for the harvest.
A Five-Day Event
- October 1st: The morning begins with the transfer of the divine spirit of Tenjin-sama (Sugawara no Michizane) to the Houren palanquin. The afternoon witnesses a grand procession through the parish region towards Nishinokyo. Upon arrival, a series of ceremonies unfold, with the highlight being the dance offering by the Yaotome dancers. A special palanquin decorated with vegetables and dry goods remains on display till the 4th.
- October 2nd: The morning is marked by a tea offering ceremony performed by the head of the Omotesenke school of tea.
- October 3rd: An afternoon feast named Kabuto no Gokuhousen graces Nishinokyo.
- October 4th: The festival reaches its climax as a grand parade led by the zuiki mikoshi winds its way back to Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. Upon arrival, the return festival (Kenkou Festival) is celebrated.
- October 5th: The festival concludes with the Goensai, an afternoon feast, followed by another captivating performance by the Yaotome dancers.
The term “zuiki” in the festival’s name refers to the stalk of taro, and the practice of roofing the palanquin with this stalk is believed to have given rise to the festival’s name. The practice of decorating a large palanquin with vegetables is said to have its origins in the Keicho era (1596-1614).
Kitano Tenmangu traces its inception to 947 when a sanctuary was erected in Nishinokyo by notable figures of that time, and deity Sugawara no Michizane was enshrined. Following a series of events, including dreams and revelations, the shrine received significant patronage, which led to the construction of a majestic sanctuary. The shrine, honored by Emperor Ichijo in 987, gained significant reverence from the Imperial family.
Despite suffering setbacks, including a major fire in 1444, the shrine regained its former glory, thanks to patrons like Toyotomi Hideyoshi and his son, Toyotomi Hideyori. Widely known for venerating Sugawara no Michizane, the shrine is a beacon for those seeking scholarly blessings, being the head shrine among all shrines dedicated to this deity.
- Main Hall (Honden): A testament to the architectural brilliance of the period.
- Sanko Gate (Three Light Gate): A symbol of spiritual reverence.
- Always verify event details from official sources as changes can occur.
- During the festival, expect to see stalls lining up in Nishinokyo (subject to confirmation).
For a detailed guide on the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, including access, significant spots, and a comprehensive history, refer to the official website.
- Address: Kamigyō-ku, Kyoto City, Gozen-Dori Imadegawa-Agaru Bakurocho, Kyoto Prefecture.
- Nearest landmark: Right by the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.
- By Bus (last update end of 2014; subject to change):
- From Kyoto Station: Lines 50 (B2 stand) and 101 (B2 stand)
- From Shijo Kawaramachi: Line 51
- From Shijo Karasuma: Lines 55, 101, and 203
- From Kawaramachi Marutamachi: Line 10
- By Train:
- Using the Randen (Keifuku Electric Railroad) Kitano Line: Nearest station is Kitano Hakubaicho Station, about a 7-minute walk.
For detailed routes, timetables, and fares, it’s recommended to check with local transportation providers.
The Sum Up
Remember to confirm all event and travel details in advance, and always respect local customs and regulations. Enjoy a taste of authentic Japan at the Zuiki Festival!