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Traditional Fukusasa and the Toka Ebisu Festival

Although Japanese food traditions have become well-known across the world, you may know less about some of the traditional festivals held in Japan. The Toka Ebisu Festival is one such tradition. It is held every January across Japan and is when people buy lucky bamboo branches that have been decorated. Here is a look at traditional fukusasa and the Toka Ebisu Festival.

What are traditional fukusasa?

Fukusasa is the name given to the bamboo branches sold during the festival. The fukusasa are decorated by Miko. Miko is loosely translated as shrine maiden in English and refers to women who play important roles in the rituals and traditions of Shinto shrines. Traditionally, Miko are considered to be akin to shaman and able to perform acts like driving out evil spirits and serving as spiritual mediums. Today’s Miko tend to perform fewer such spiritual roles and instead work in reception areas of shrines, where they sell lucky trinkets and take part of ceremonies such as weddings and festivals. Decorating fukusasa branches is an important part of their role.

What is the Toka Ebisu Festival?

The Toka Ebisu Festival takes place in various shrines across the country in January. The festival honors the deity Ebisu, who is the god of fishermen and luck. Although the Toka Ebisu Festival is celebrated all over Japan, the largest event is in Osaka. Osaka’s Imamiya Ebisu Shrine is visited by more than a million people during the festival, who line up to buy lucky bamboo branches crafted by the shrine’s Miko. In other parts of the country, similar bamboo marts are set up at shrines throughout the multiday festival.

Immerse yourself in the Japanese traditions of teppanyaki and hibachi cooking by dining at House of Genji. We offer an extensive menu of Japanese favorites, including sushi, as well as traditional teppanyaki-style dining at our Japanese steakhouse in San Jose. Get answers to your questions about our menu and dining hours by calling (408) 453-8120.


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