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Osaka's Tenjin Festival: 2023 Schedule, Highlights, and Access

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Osaka's Tenjin Festival (Tenjin Matsuri) is usually held on July 24 and July 25. The festival includes parades through the city, a boat parade, a spectacular fireworks display, and other events. Learn how to get to the festival from Osaka Station and what to expect.

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Osaka's Tenjin Matsuri

Tenjin Matsuri

© Osaka Sightseeing Association

Osaka's Tenjin Festival, or Tenjin Matsuri, is a festival held every year on July 24 and 25 at the Tenmangu Shrine in Osaka. This festival is one of the most famous in Japan due to its size and long history, along with Kyoto's Gion Festival and Tokyo's Kanda Festival.

The Tenjin Festival is held for the citizens to show their appreciation toward the Tenjin deity and to pray for business prosperity and health. The Tenjin Festival is particularly famous for its grand parade of participants wearing historical garb and for its gorgeously decorated floating down Osaka's Okawa River.

Read on to learn the festival schedule, how to get to Tenjin Matsuri, and what you can enjoy.

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Tenjin Festival 2023 Schedule

Osaka's Tenjin Festival: 2023 Schedule, Highlights, and Access

Photo by Pixta
The major events of the Tenjin Festival 2023 are listed below.

Major Events on July 24

Yoimiya Yasai (7:45 - 8:30)
At Osaka Tenmangu Shrine, a Shinto priest prays for the sound health of all through a ceremony involving the use of a pike. This ritual is called hokonagashi shinji in Japanese.

The Hokonagashi Procession (8:30 - 8:50)
In this procession, priests and the people dressed in traditional Japanese garments head from Osaka Tenmangu to Hokonagashi Bridge, where the ceremony is held. It's a smaller parade than the procession on July 25.

Hokonagashi Shinji (8:50 - 9:30)
Hokonagashi Shinji is where priests drop sacred pikes and human-shaped paper into the river to wash away any impurities of the soul. This part of the festival takes place by the Hokonagashi Bridge.

Shishimai Lion Performances (12:00 - 12:30)
Traditional shishimai (lion dance) performances at Osaka Amenity Park and inside the Imperial Hotel Osaka.

Major Events on July 25

Honmiya Festival (13:30 - 14:30)
During the Honmiya Festival, a priest prays for the city's peace and prosperity at Osaka Tenmangu Shrine.

The Rikuto Parade (15:30 - 18:00)
Tenjin Matsuri's Rikuto Parade includes around 3,000 participants wearing traditional garb and yukata from the Heian period and Edo period departs from Osaka Tenmangu Shrine carrying mikoshi, or portable shrines. The procession moves around the city through a three-kilometer road including Oimatsucho, Shinmidosuji, and the northern side of the municipal office to Tenjinbashi.

Festival Boat Procession (18:00 - festival end)
During the boat procession, various ships start down the Okawa River carrying festival participants. Visitors can watch the boats from Hyobashi Bridge and Tenjin Bridge. Some boats have taiko drum performances on board; the atmosphere is very festive.

Tenjin Festival Tips and Highlights

To make the most out of Tenjin Matsuri, it is recommended to see the parade and boat crossing, in addition to other events listed above. The fireworks at night are also spectacular and a must-see!

Street Procession

Tenjin Festival
Tenjin Festiva;

© Osaka Sightseeing Association

The procession starts at 15:30 on July 25 with people dressed in elegant costumes as well as those carrying a mikoshi (portable shrine) around the town. In this large parade, there is a mikoshi thought to be carrying the spirit of Sugawara Michizane, the deity enshrined at Tenmangu Shrine.

Some of the other legendary and historical characters that make their appearance are Sarutahiko (*1) wearing a tengu (*2) mask and women called uneme wearing light green veils. There are kids wearing festival costumes and a festival float that imitates a large monkey called shojodashi. It's an extremely lively parade, making it a must-see for anyone in the area.

*1 Sarutahiko: a god in Japanese myth said to have lit up heaven and hell. Its characteristics are its high nose, white hair, and monkey-like face.
*2 Tengu: a humanoid monster said to live in the mountains. It has magic powers and can even fly.

Festival Boat Procession on July 25

Osaka's Tenjin Festival: 2023 Schedule, Highlights, and Access

Photo by Pixta
The climax of the festival is the festival boat procession on July 25. Visitors will see various boats: boats with the men rowing to the beat of drums onboard, a boat carrying the mikoshi, and others carrying drum players.

After departing separately from Hishobashi Bridge, which is upstream of the Tenjinbashi Bridge on the Okawa River, these boats come and go along the river, almost blocking the river entirely. The light from the decorations on the boats plus the magical fireworks display is simply stunning and draws visitors from all over every year to Osaka.

This portion of the Tenjin Festival sees over one million people every year, so if you would like to get a good spot to watch the festivities, we recommend arriving at the riverside at least an hour before the start of the festival.

Tenjin Festival Fireworks

Tenjin Festival 2023 in Osaka

Picture courtesy of PR Times

In 2023, the Tenjin Matsuri fireworks display is scheduled to take place on July 25 from 19:30 to 20:50. About 3,000 fireworks will fill Osaka's night sky with light and color!

You can watch the fireworks for free and just enjoy the traditional, festive environment, but if you purchase tickets in advance, you can secure an ideal viewing spot.

If you wish to enjoy the fireworks in style, Osaka's Hotel New Otani offers special viewing seats and a dinner plan limited to 80 participants. Check their website for details.

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How to Get to the Tenjin Festival Venues

The main events of the Tenjin Festival are held at Osaka Tenmangu Shrine, a prominent Shinto shrine in Osaka. The closest station is Osaka Tenmangu Station on the JR Tozai line, or Minami-morimachi Station on the Osaka Subway Tanimachi line.

If you are using JR lines, walk south from Osaka Station to Kitashinchi Station. At Kitashinchi Station, get on the JR Tozai line on a train bound for Kizu, and get off at Osaka Tenmangu Station. It's about a two-minute ride. Osaka Tenmangu Shrine is a three-minute walk from the station.

For subway riders, first, walk from Osaka or Umeda Station to Higashi Umeda Station. Get on the Tanimachi line bound for Tenmanbashi. The ride takes two minutes. The shrine can be reached in about four minutes on foot from Minami-morimachi Station.
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Main image by Pixta

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Previous experience as an editor at a women's media company in Japan. I lived in Australia for a while and joined MATCHA after returning to Japan. In charge of editing, promoting sponsored content, and creative direction. I love watching Western TV series.
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