Go! Go! Touka Ebisu!

January 16, 2015 Juju Kurihara Culture, Entertainment, Trip, Vocabulary Tags: 0 Comments

Posted by Chisai Fujita


Japanese believe in many Gods. In Christmas, they go to a church and only one week after, they go to the temple where they ring “Kane (鐘/ bell)” for purify their bad spirits. Then the next day, the 1st of January, they pray at the shrine where Japanese original God “Kami-sama(神様)” is.

10884797_10205700769502180_1717693795_nEvery Shrine has its own Kami-sama. I went to Kyoto Ebisu Shrine (京都えびす神社) where their God is Ebisu (恵比寿). Ebisu is one of 808 existing gods in Japan but he is little more well-known than others because he is a member of the special group of seven Gods called, “Shichi-fuku-jin(七福神)”. And among those seven Gods, Ebisu is the only God who is originated in Japan. He is in charge of fishermen and merchants. You can find him easily among the seven God. He´s quite fat and has a Tai fish (鯛/ sea bream) a fishing rod. Ebisu God loves fishing and he would exchange the fish to cereals. He was quite a businessman and this is why Ebisu-sama is a god of “prosperous business(商売繁盛)”.



This event, Touka Ebisu (十日えびす) is an anniversary of the Ebisu God. In Kansai area (関西, west Japan area), people seem to have a special affection toward him and call him Ebessan instead of Ebisu-sama. The anniversary is the 10th day of the New Year and this is the reason, the festival is called, Touka (the 10th) Ebisu. Usually the event lasts three days, from the 9th to the 11th. During these days, people come to wish their successful business while they celebrate the anniversary of Ebisu-sama.   






Ebisu shrines in Kansai hold an event on the 10th of every month but especially the one in January is the biggest.

Including a Japanese traditional performance, many ceremonies began at the shrine for the day. For example, this performance in the photo is to purify the place. Shrine woman “miko(巫女)” danced in front of many bamboo leaves.



These bamboo are called “fuku zasa(福笹/ lucky bamboo leaves)” so I got one too. Several lucky items were attached to each bamboo branch.

Using bamboo leaves is the specialty of Ebisu Jinja. In other shrines, people receive ofuda (お札/ a charm). Since bamboo grows straight and never breaks because of its flexibility, also the leaves are always green and never fall, it became a symbol of “prosperity of the family and the business”


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Shrine girls put many different goods you like on the bamboo branch.  These goods are “engimono(縁起物/ lucky charms)and each charm has a different meaning. Since I want to get to know many people, I picked the one with “suzu(鈴/ bell)”. Apparently, the sound of the bell attracts a lot of people.

Other charms, for example, if you wish for a good harvest during the year, you chose “tawara(俵)”, which means a straw ricebag.



The streets were crowded with many merchants. Also in Kyoto, you see geisha everywhere.

This was my first experience of Touka Ebisu and I prayed to the Ebisu God, "I want to make money!" Let´s see.






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