Benkei Festival Tanabe


Benkei Festival (Benkei matsuri )

***** Location: Tanabe, Japan
***** Season: Late Autumn
***** Category: Observance


Benkei Matsuri 弁慶まつり Benkei Festival
first sunday in october

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A parade through the town of Tanabe, with his love Tamamushi Gozen 玉虫御前 following him, and later the dynamic dance of Benkei is one of the highlights of the festival.
Every year another young man from the village is choosen to perform the dance, now in the 24th generation.

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at shrine Tokei Jinja
闘けい神社 / 闘鶏神社 (とうけいじんじゃ)
Cockfight Shrine

It used to be called 新熊野鶏合大権現.


Tokei Jinja History

Tokei-jinja Shrine was established in 419 A.D and derives from Kumano Hongu Taisha.
In the times of abdicated Emperor Shirakawa (1053-1129), the Kumano deities were enshrined in Tokei-jinja Shrine. Many imperial and aristocratic pilgrims paid homage here praying for safe passage into the realm of Kumano. Because the Kumano deities were manifested in Tokei-jinja Shrine, some pilgrims didn’t make the voyage into the heart of Kumano, but prayed here, subsequently worshipping the three shrines of Kumano Sanzan from afar.

In the “Tales of Heike”the Kumano Betto Tanzo 熊野別当湛増 (or steward of the Kumano shrines,
who is said to be the father of Benkei)

turned to the gods to decide which side to join forces with during the historic sea battle of “Dan-no-ura” (1185) between the Heike and Genji clans by holding a divinatory cockfight here with a white and a red cock. The white cock, representing the Genji, won the fight.

By the order of the gods the Kumano Navy (Kumano suigun熊野水軍) supported the Genji, turning the tide of the war, and destroying the Heike. During the shrine consolidations that took place in the Meiji era (1868-1912) this shrine was re-named “Tokei-jinja” or “cockfighting shrine” because of this event.

During the peak of the Kumano pilgrimage, Tanabe was an important junction and prospered as the entrance to the Kumano region. The city was a key location for both land and ocean transportation routes. People gathered in Tanabe before continuing onto the Kumano Sanzan or the Saigoku pilgrimage (33 Kannon pilgrimage of Western Japan).
source : www.tb-kumano.jp


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Nearby is also a shrine in his honor

Benkei Jinja, Benkei Yashiro 弁慶神社
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

and a pine in his honor

Benkei matsu 弁慶松
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and a stone where he sat down

Benkei Koshikake Iwa 弁慶腰掛岩
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and a few more things in memory of Benkei in his youth.

The whole town of Tanabe is full of Benkei artifacts.


紀州鈴屋 「弁慶の釜」 Benkei no kama

CLICK for original LINK, sweetsmemory.blog47

A Wafer in the form of a small pot, the one that Benkei has his first bath as a baby.
The wafer comes in two parts, with a lid of a slightly different falvor with yuzu citrons.
The flavor of the pot filling is taken from the famous plums of Kishu.
In a nearby museum in Tanabe you can see the real pot 弁慶産湯の釜.
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

A dish made from local chicken, called
in a pun with the sound of the name, written with the Chinese character KEI for chicken.
. . . CLICK here for Ben-KEI Photos !

There is also a famous ricewine, 酒
Benkei no Sato 弁慶の里, produced in Tanabe town.

sake barrels offered at the Benkei Shrine


Tanabe matsuri 田辺祭り Tanabe Festival

Every year on July 24th and 25th, the annual summer festival of Tokei-jinja Shrine is held. The year 2009 marked the 450th anniversary of the Tanabe Festival. In 1969 this festival, which is filled with much pomp and circumstance, was designated as an intangible folklore cultural asset of Wakayama prefecture.

Yoinomiya: Festival Eve (July 24)

Hon-matsuri: Festival Day (July 25)
At 4:30 the Akatsuki-no-Saiten ritual of dawn begins at Tokei-jinja Shrine.
Kasahoko Floats

In the evening of the 25th, there is
Yabusame, horseback archery demonstration

During the Tanabe Festival you can see eight “Kasahoko" from the eight traditional districts related to the old castle and merchant towns of Tanabe. Locals call the Kasahokos “Okasa”. “Kasahoko” is a sort of “Dashi” which broadly means an attraction of an event. But specifically speaking, Dashi in a Japanese festival performs a sacred role. The Kanji characters for Dashi are 山車, which mean “mountain” and “wheel” or “vehicle”. Literally Dashi are large elegant floats elaborately decorated, and are related to the local history and Kami deities of the area. Dashi are pulled and pushed through the city by many men to pay homage at shrines and sacred sites. There is a great diversity of Dashi, with as many variations of Dashi as there are festivals in Japan.

Look at more photos of the festival HERE :
source : www.tb-kumano.jp

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

. Senteisai festival 先帝祭 and Antoku Tenno 安徳天皇  


tookei ya tsuwamonodomo no yume wa ima

this cockfight -
the dreams of ancient warriors
still alive

Gabi Greve, Autumn 2010


One of the most famous tsuwamono (Hercules) is maybe super-strong Musashibo Benkei 武蔵坊弁慶, the monk-soldier who accompanied Yoshitsune during his whole life.

. Brave Warrior (tsuwamono) and Haiku

Related words

From ancient times to the Middle Ages, the faith instilled by the Kumano Sanzan of Hongu, Shingu and Nachi was at a peak and many believers ranging from emperors and nobles to the commoner made their pilgrimages to Kumano.
Now a World Heritage Site.

***** . The ancient Kumano Pilgrims Road  
Kumano Kodoo, Kumano Kodō (熊野古道) and Haiku

***** . yabusame 流鏑馬(やぶさめ)Yabusame
and its related kigo 

***** . Tori awase 鶏合 (とりあわせ) Ritual Cock Fighting
Hahnenkampf, and its related kigo 

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Gabi Greve - WKD said...

soohei, sōhei 僧兵 monk-warrior, monk-soldier


Gabi Greve said...

Art of Japan and Benkei the Warrior Monk of History and Folklore

Lee Jay Walker

In Japanese culture, history and art, it is clear that Saito no Musashibo Benkei left a lasting impression and this continues today in modern culture. This legendary warrior monk belonged to the intriguing period of the 12th century. He was born in 1155 and died in 1189 after serving the famous Minamoto no Yoshitsune. The images in this article come from the esteemed toshidama (Toshidama Gallery), whereby you can feel the power of Benkei and visually understand how he was portrayed in Japanese art.

Benkei is famous within the folklore of Japan because of his enormous strength which was matched by great loyalty. In the realm of Japanese art and the majestic ukiyo-e movement, then Benkei provides a wealth of images by many famous artists.


Gabi Greve said...

Benkei ベンケイ / 弁慶と伝説 Legends about Musashibo Benkei

. Musashiboo Benkei 武蔵坊弁慶 (? - 1189) .