Kasuga Shrine Festivals


Kasuga Shrine Festivals

***** Location: Kasuga Shrine, Japan
***** Season: Various, see below
***** Category: Observance


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The Kasuga Shrine (春日大社, Kasuga-taisha) is a Shinto shrine in the city of Nara, in Nara Prefecture, Japan. Established in 768 A.D. and rebuilt several times over the centuries, it is the shrine of the Fujiwara family. The interior is famous for its many bronze lanterns, as well as the many stone lanterns that lead up the shrine.

The architectural style Taisha-zukuri takes its name from the Kasuga Shrine.

Kasuga Shrine, and the Kasugayama Primeval Forest near the shrine, are registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara".

The enchanting path to Kasuga Shrine passes through Deer Park (where tame deer roam free). Over a thousand stone lanterns line the way.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

Kasuga jinja 春日神社 Kasuga Shrine is the shrine name.

taisha-zukuri 大社造
Also called ooyashiro-zukuri. The oldest style of shrine architecture.
Read more here: © JAANUS

Kasuga Taisha Japanese HP

Kasuga Wakamiya Festival. Japanese HP


The five deities of the five important shrines

Takemikazuchi no Mikoto / Fuku Kenjaku Kannon

Futsunushi no Mikoto / Yakushi Nyorai

Ame no Koyane no Mikoto / Jiso Bosatsu

Himegami / 11-Headed Kannon Bosatsu

Wakamiya- / Monju Manjushri Bosatsu


Kasuga Lantern Festival in Spring
setsubun mantooroo 節分万灯籠, 万中元万燈籠
Februar 3
Kasuga no mantoo 春日の万燈(かすがのまんとう)
(The kigo is for the winter festival.)

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This festival takes place at the Great Shrine at Kasuga, Kasuga Taisha 春日大社.
More than 3000 lanterns are lit up in the cold winter night. The stone lanterns have been dedicated by some Daimyo of the Edo period and many more by the lay people who come visit this shrine. There are also many bronze lanterns hanging from the eaves.

This ceremony is more than 800 years old.

Reference : Kasuga Lantern Festival

O-Bon Lantern Festival, Obon Mantoro
(Obon Mantooroo) お盆万燈籠 

During the O-Bon festival, the lanterns are lit again.
August 14

O-bon, a kigo for haiku

Kasuga Lantern Festival in Winter, Kasuga Mantooroo
春日万燈籠 (かすがまんとうろう). 春日万灯籠
kigo for mid-winter
..... Kasuga no mantoo 春日の万燈(かすがのまんとう)
Taisha Mandoro (Taisha Mandooroo)


Kasuga Spring Festival, Kasuga Festival
kigo for mid-spring
March 13

Kasuga Matsuri 春日祭 (かすがまつり)
"Kasuga Monkey Festival" saru matsuri 申祭(さるまつり)

The shrine was build in the 2nd year of the Zingo-Keiun era (768) and its festival was held on the first "day of the monkey" (saru no hi) in February and November (old lunar calendar). In the Meiji period, this day has been declared to be on March 13.
An imperial messanger makes offerings to the deity and many Shinto ceremonies are held on this day.

One of the three great festivals by order of the Imperial court (san chokusai 三勅祭) of Japan.


"Throwing deer bisquits"
shika senbei tobashi 鹿せんべい飛ばし
March 21
On the open spaces of Wakakusa Yama 若草山

Usually the deer get small bisquits from the tourists, but on this day large ones with a diameter of 25 cm are made for throwing and fighting about the longest flight of a bisquit. Sometimes they throw it for more than 50 meters. The winner gets a pair of the cut-off horns of a Kasuga deer.

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Photo: Mainichi Shinbun October 2010

shika no tsunokiri 鹿の角切 (しかのつのきり)
cutting the horns of deer

deer-horn cutting ceremony

tsunokiri 角伐(つのきり)cutting the horns
shikayose 鹿寄せ(しかよせ)herding the deer together
shikatsuri 鹿釣り(しかつり)"fishing for deer"

kigo for late autumn

In October, the divine deer are all gathered in one place and the horns are cut. This will prevent the animals from hurting each other and hurting the many visitors in Nara. The deer are rounded up and the first cut is made by a shinto priest of the shrine. This ceremony started in the Edo period and is performed to this day by a group of about 25 professionals.


Kasuga Wakamiya Shrine Festival
Kasuga Wakamiya On Matsuri

春日若宮御祭 (かすがわかみやおんまつり)
kigo for mid-winter
..... "THE Festival" on matsuri 御祭(おんまつり)
december 15 - 18

This festival is handed down since the 12th century. It started during an epidemic, when the government had rites performed at the "Young Shrine" Wakamiya, to pray for improvement and also for a good harvest.
The biggest event is now held on December 17, with a long procession of people dressed in period robes of the past, from the 9th to the 19th Century.

Traditional music and dance are also performed during these festival days.

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Folding Screen depicting the On Matsuri


Kasuga no o-taue matsuri
春日御田植祭 (かすがのおたうえまつり)
rice planting ritual at Kasuga shrine

kigo for the New Year
sometimes placed in mid-spring

On March 15.
A ritual to pray for a good harvest.
At the three shrines Ringo no niwa 林檎の庭, Enomoto Jinja 榎本神社 and Wakamiya shrine 若宮社 men perform ritual planting dances and women plant pine needles (representing rice plants) as an offering to the deities.

The colorful dances and lively songs are a joy.



Horse-riding and arrow shooting contest
yabusame sadame 流鏑馬定(やぶさめさだめ)
July 1

Sacred Rope Ritual, nawamune sai
October 1

Young Monks getting a rank
Bachoo no chigo no okurai uke
Beginning of December

Japanese: Rituals at Kasuga Wakamiya

Wakamiya, chigo or dooji indicates a divine boy (in case of Kasuga an incarnation of Monju Bosatsu), Bodhisattva of wisdom.

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Kasuga no no shika mo tachisoo hana midoo

Kasuga Field's deer
also attend, I see...
blossom-filled temple

Tr. David Lanoue
Kasuga Shrine and Hana Mido

Kasuga Shrine Mandala
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On this scroll, a sacred tree (sakaki, Cleyera japonica) stands on the back of the white deer, which is the messenger of the Deity of Kasuga.
Kasuga shrine has four main deities and the one of Wakamiya (the New Shrine) is seen as Buddhas standing on the branches. There are also wisteria blossoms (fuji), the symbol of the shrine and the Fujiwara family.
The top part of the mandala shows Mount Mikasa in front of the Kasuga hills.

Three haiku by Kobayashi ISSA about the deer

kasugano no shika ni kagaruru awase kana

Kasuga Field's deer
sniff it...
my summer kimono

kasugano ya dagashi ni majiru shika no kuso

Kasuga Field--
penny candy mingles

with deer poop

kasugano ya kami mo yurushi no shika no koi

Kasuga Field--
with the god's permission
deer make love

Tr. David Lanoue


Kasuga jinja no ema 春日神社の絵馬
votiv tablets

They come in all sizes and with all kinds of paintings.
There is a special hall to exhibit them all.


goshiki jika 五色鹿 deer in five colors

The deer go back to the legend of the deity Takemikazuchi no mikoto 武甕槌神
The "Great God of Kashima" rode on a white deer from Kashima all the way to the Kasuga shrine in Nara as a divine messenger, and the deer became the symbol of Nara.
The Kasuga Deer Mandala tells the story.

These deer are only about 2 cm high, made with bamboo legs. They come in five colors and have white dots on their body.

. Folk Toys from Nara .

. Kashima Shrine 鹿島神宮 Kashima Jingu .

. Goshiki Daruma and Color Symbols .

. hakuroku 白鹿 white deer mikuji .


Saiin Kasuga Jinja 西院春日神社
Sai-In Kasuga Shrine in Kyoto

京都市右京区西院春日町61 - 61 Saiin Kasuga-cho, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto
Founded in 833.
It holds all the deities of the Kasuga Shrine in Nara, just closer to Kyoto.

In the compound is a stone that heals all kind of illness

hoosoo ishi 疱瘡石 "smallpox stone"

In the beginning of the Heian period, the wife of Junna Tenno 淳和天皇 (786 - 840), 崇子内親王 Takako Naishinnoo, suffered from smallpox and made a vow to this stone.
So the stone took on the smallpox and the lady was cured. Now people come to pray for good health.

In October there is also a festival with mikoshi palanquins, praying for good health and a good harvest.

- Homepage of the shrine
- source : kasuga.or.jp

Look at more amulets from the shrine
- source : kasuga.or.jp/kitou

. byooma taisan 病魔退散 warding off disease .
. Health Amulets 健康御守 kenkoo omamori .


saru matsuri hito yori ooki shika no mure

Beim Fest des Affen
sind die Herden vom Hirsch
mehr als die vom Menschen.

Kinoshita Seirin 木下星林(1918~)
Tr. Namura Kouta

Kasuga Monkey Festival -
there are more throngs of deer
than throngs of people

Tr. Gabi Greve


Aoni Yoshi 青丹よし Aoniyoshi
"the green and cinnabar is good"

This is an old makurakotoba for the old capital of Nara. The red pillars and green window bars of the shrine are auspicious colors to keep evil out of the city.

Many temples and shrines were built whith these colors, so a walk in Nara was yoshi, was pleasing and this expression became synonymous with NARA (Heijokyo 平城京).

There is also a famous sweet from Manshodo 萬勝堂 of this name.
It is made of wasanbon sugar.

CLICK for original link manshoudou.com

Wasanbon sugar 和三盆


In 768, when the shrine Kasuga Taisha was built, the priests of the shrine dress in hunters gear (kariginu 狩衣 ) and pound rice for mochi, which are fried in oil. They are also written 伏兎.

hiuchi yaki 火打焼 a kind of mochi ricecake

Related words

***** Light offerings afloat (tooroo nagashi)

***** Stone Lantern (ishidooroo) Japan

***** . Kinkazan : cutting antlers of deer  


The Dragon God of Kasuga Shrine 春日竜神 Kasuga Ryujin
Tsukioka Kōgyo 岡耕漁 (Sakamaki Kōgyo) (1869-1927)

- quote -
Kasuga Ryūjin (春日龍神), or "The Kasuga Dragon God,"
is a Japanese Noh play often attributed to Komparu Zenchiku, son-in-law of Zeami Motokiyo. The play features the historical figure Myōe Shōnin (1173 – 1232), abbot of the Buddhist temple Kōzan-ji, and famous for his detailed dream diary. Myōe sought for many years to visit China and India, and to witness the places where the historical Buddha preached; in episodes recorded in his dream diary and other sources, Myōe is said to have been visited, both in dreams and via oracles, by the Dragon God of Kasuga Shrine, who persuaded him to remain in Japan. The play is inspired by and based upon these sources, and relates one such meeting of Myōe with the Dragon God.
----- Plot
The play opens with Myōe and his companions traveling to Kasuga Shrine to say formal farewells to the kami of the shrine, before they leave for their journey to China and India. There, they meet a priest, an old man, who welcomes them into the shrine grounds, saying that Myōe is favored by the kami of the shrine like a first-born son, and that of course he should be most welcome. Learning of Myōe's intentions to journey abroad, however, he argues that the kami shouldn't like to see him go, as his presence at the shrine is so treasured.

The priest goes on to explain that, were the Buddha still living, one would do well to hear him preach in person. But, he says, the ages have turned, and the sacred places of India and China are now represented in Japan. He equates important Buddhist sites such as Vulture Peak to sites in Japan, such as Mount Mikasa, and encourages Myōe to visit these sacred sites instead. He offers that if Myōe will desist with his plan, he will reveal to the monk, upon Mount Mikasa, the five regions of India, the Buddha's birth, the Buddha's enlightenment, his preaching, and his passing.

Convinced, Myōe gives up his intentions to travel to the continent, and asks the old man his name. The priest identifies himself as Tokifū Hideyuki, a name drawn from those of the founders of the Kasuga Shrine, Nakatomi no Tokifū and Nakatomi no Hideyuki, at which he vanishes.

Between the two acts of the play, a kyōgen actor portraying a minor kami in the service of the shrine comes forth and retells the story of the first act.

In the second act, the Dragon God of Kasuga (the kasuga ryūjin of the play's title) appears, and dances, while speaking to Myōe, and confirming that he has in fact given up his intentions to journey to the continent.
- source : wikipedia -


Kasuga Myoojin 春日明神 Kasuga Myojin
Kasuga Daimyoojin, Kasuga Daimyôjin 春日大明神 Kasuga Daimyojin

comprizes the five kami of Kasuga related to the temple Kofuku-Ji.

Based on the honji suijaku doctrine, separate Buddhist avatars (honjibutsu) were designated for Kasuga shrine's Shisho Myōjin, "Four Bright Kami," and Kasuga daimyōjin the collective name for the "Four Bright Kami" and the uber-kami that those four comprise was considered a Shinto manifestation of the Buddhist Boddhisattva Jihimangyō Bosatsu.
- quote - Sato Masato, Kokugakuin 2007 -

. Japanese Legends - 伝説 民話 昔話 – ABC-List .


.......................................................................... Kumamoto 熊本県
玉東町 Gyokuto

The origin of Konoha Saru. 木葉猿の由来。

.......................................................................... Kyoto 京都府

円覚上人 圓智上人 Saint Enchi
Saint Enchi's parents did not have any children, so they prayed to Kasuga Myojin. In a dream he let them know that soon they would have child with a special curse.
Eventually a baby boy was born and the husband made offerings to the Deity.
Just then lightning struck the house and almost the whole family died. The mother became blind and eventually left the child in the wilderness of the pilgrims road to Kasuga Shrine.

. 円覚上人 圓智上人 Saint Enchi (active in Tsugaru around 550) .

.......................................................................... Nara 奈良県
帯解町 Obitake

ryuu 竜 Ryu, Dragon
In the village pond lived a Dragon who ate peopoe, so they tried to drive it away. They lit a fire at the dam of the pond and tried to scare it, but the Dragon did not appear. A Samurai, who walked past, shot an arrow in the pond. The Dragon grabbed the Samurai and flew with him up to heaven. Eventually it begun 雷光 to thunder ad flashes of lightning appeared.
Blood-red raindrops fell into the pond. Eventually the body of the dragon dropped into the pond, all torn with wounds.
The villagers collected the Dragon bones from the pond and made a statue of a Dragon.
The Samurai never appeared again. They say it was an incarnation of
春日明神 the Deity Kasuga Myojin.

誓多林町 Setarincho

Along the 新笠置街道 New Kasagi Road there are two large footprints in a stone wall.
They say they are the footprints from the White Deer which Kasuga Myojin rode when he came from Kashima.


Yonaki Jizo 夜泣地蔵 Jizo crying at night



- reference : Nichibun Yokai Database -


- #kasugashrine #kasugamyojin -


anonymous said...

AAoniyoshi Nara no miyako wa saku hana no niou ga gotoku ima sakarinari



Gabi Greve - Kuwana Festival said...

Kasuga Taisha 春日神社 in Kuwana town
Kuwana matsuri 桑名祭 (くわなまつり) Kuwana Festival
ishitori matsuri 石採祭(いしとりまつり)Ishidori Festival

Gabi Greve said...

September 2015
Tokyo National Museum exhibition,
Copies of the Illustrated Scrolls of Kasuga Shrine II:
The Depiction of Gods

Gabi Greve said...

Not related
Lady Kasuga 春日局 Kasuga no Tsubone
(1579 – October 26, 1643)


Gabi Greve said...

Yamanobe no michi 山辺の道 / 山辺道
One of the old Yamato Kaido roads.

Through the Nara plain to 三輪山 Mount Miwasan and then 春日山 Kasugayama.
From Nara to Sakurai, and then on to Ise.

Gabi Greve said...

Legend from 春日町 Kasuga town
kaii 怪異 something weird
In the year 1791, on day 20 in August, the official day of audiences with the regent, there was a huge storm and rain.
The shinboku 神木 sacred tree of the Shrine 春日大社 Kasuga Taisha and the tooroo 燈篭 stone lantern in the park fell down.

Gabi Greve said...

Kasuga gongen reigenki emaki
(Illustrated Scrolls of the Miracles of the Kasuga Deity) in three rolls.
The Illustrated Miracles of the Kasuga Deity, in twenty fascicles, is an illustrated hand scroll that contains depictions of the miracles of the Kasuga Deity, the tutelary god of the Fujiwara clan. The deity was worshipped at the Grand Shrine of Kasuga (Kasuga Taisha), which wielded great political and cultural influence along with Koufukuji with which the shrine was intergrated.

The scolls were completed in 1309 (Enkyou 2), during the late-Kamakura period, by the painter Takashina Takakane. The set is a rare example of illustrated scroll for which the precise date and creator are known and is thus been recognized as an important historical resource.