Imamiya Shrine’s Toka Ebisu Festival
Ever wondered what an event with a million people looks like? It would look exactly like Osaka’s Toka Ebisu Festival from January 9th to 11th held at the Imamiya Ebisu Shrine!
Scores of Toka Ebisu Festivals are held in different shrines across Japan but one of the most popular locations is the Imamiya Ebisu Shrine in Naniwaku, Osaka.
The Shrine was built the same time that Osaka, formerly known as Shotoku was built. It served as a sanctuary for warding off evil spirits believed to originate from the west of the temple. Other than serving as the home of the Japanese deity of fishermen and commerce, Ebisu, Imamiya Ebisu Shrine houses other sacred deities like Amaterasu O’ Mikami (The Sun Goddess).
Osaka has always been a business district, and as Japanese people are, believe in the perfect combination of skills and luck. To continue the tradition, Osaka celebrates the Toka Ebisu Festival to pray for success and good fortune.
What to Expect
Sacred bamboo branches (fukuzasa) embellished with lucky charms (ofuda) are sold during the 3-day event, which runs from January 9 to 11.
To give you an idea just how special this well-celebrated event is, over 3,000 women audition for a chance of becoming one of the Fukumusume or “Good Luck Girls” that hand out sacred bamboo branches to visitors. They wear identical kimonos with matching chihayas and eboshis. Other than receiving prestige, the girls selected as Fukumusumes receive dozens of marriage proposals.
The shrine officially opens its gates to festival-goers on January 9th at which time locals and tourists can grab as many lucky bamboo branches as they’d like—for a price, of course.
The second day is where you’ll witness the largely popular Good Luck Palanquin Parade. A blend of famous celebrities, fukumusumes, and geishas either hop aboard mini shrines or traverse the streets by foot towards the Imamiya Ebisu Shrine.
Food is also one of the reasons why the festival has become a magnet for local and foreign tourists alike.
Food stalls serving different fares that won’t burn holes in someone’s pocket are considered attractions in their own right. No wonder over a million people visit the annual festival!
If you’re planning on bringing your car, don’t. The Shrine doesn’t have parking lots so you’ll need to get there by train and on foot. Imamiya Ebisu shrine is pretty close to Imamiyaebisu Station so you can travel on foot once you get off the train. It’s also a short walk from Namba District.
Imamiya Ebisu Shrine
1 Chome-6-6番-10号 Ebisunishi Naniwa-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 556-0003 Japan
January 9, 2018
Hours & Fees
8:00 AM - 12:00 AM | Free Admission