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May 17 at Toshogu Shrine, priests gather for ceremony 発興祭
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Prayer ceremony by priests
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In front of the portable shrine storehouse for the three mikoshi. A ceremony is held to transfer the spirits from the main shrine to the portable shrines. 神輿舎にて宵成渡御This building is right next to the famous Yomei-mon Gate at the Toshogu Shrine.

神輿舎にて宵成渡御
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The three portable shrines (mikoshi) are then carried out of the storehouse to be taken to Futarasan Shrine.
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Passing under Yomeimon Gate.
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Coming down from Yomeimon Gate (National Treasure). 陽明門The gate is a National Treasure and symbol of Nikko.

陽明門
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A short path leads to Futarasan Shrine.
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Passing under the torii at Futarasan Shrine. 二荒山神社二荒山神社
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Passing under the torii at Futarasan Shrine. 二荒山神社二荒山神社
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Entering Futarasan Shrine's Haiden Hall. All three portable shrines are taken to this hall. 二荒山神社 拝殿
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Priests on a rainy day.
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The spirits of Tokugawa Ieyasu, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Minamoto Yoritomo in the three portable shrines are then transferred to Futarasan Shrine. The mikoshi spend the night here.
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May 18: At 10:35 am, the spirits are transferred from Futarasan Shrine back to the portable shrines.Futarasan Shrine's Haiden Hall.

二荒山神社 拝殿
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Portable shrine in Futarasan Shrine's Haiden Hall.二荒山神社 拝殿
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The three portable shrines (mikoshi) in Futarasan Shrine's Haiden Hall. 二荒山神社 拝殿
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Mikoshi bearers standing by.
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Mikoshi bearers standing by.
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First group of mikoshi bearers fall in line.
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Second group of mikoshi bearers fall in line.
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Carrying out the mikoshi from Futarasan Shrine.
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Carrying out another mikoshi from Futarasan Shrine.
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Carrying out another mikoshi from Futarasan Shrine.
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Carrying out another mikoshi from Futarasan Shrine.
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Grounds of Futarasan Shrine, the starting point of the "1,000-Person Procession." 千人行列
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The warriors are the procession's main attraction.Waiting near Futarasan Shrine's torii.
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Both men and boys wear the warrior costumes.
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Futarasan Shrine's torii
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Cool heads.
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Posing with maybe with their school teacher.
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Chigo children 稚児, Nikko
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Over 50 different costumes are featured in the procession.
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The procession's starting point at Futarasan Shrine is a great photo op.
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The procession includes about 18 horses.
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Shrine priests sitting
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Shrine priests standing
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Shrine maidens 巫女
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At 11:00 am, the procession starts. They leave Futarasan Shrine through this torii. 上新道上新道
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This short path goes to the Omotesando main promenade.上新道
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Warriors make their way through.
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This warrior procession is said to be a reenactment of Shogun Tokugawa Hidetada's visit to Toshogu Shrine, dedicated to Tokugawa Ieyasu. Successive shoguns visited the shrine as well.上新道
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Rear view
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Chigo children wearing an elaborate crown with the signs of the eto Oriental Zodiac. NikkoNikko Grand Spring Festival in May.
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Omotesando main promenade 表参道
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Start of the Omotesando with Ichino-torii in the background. 一ノ鳥居
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Omotesando main promenade. Also see the video at YouTube. 表参道
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Beware of horse droppings
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Sacred music musicians
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Mikoshi passing through Ichino-torii
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Mikoshi
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The Boy Scouts collect offerings (excluding horse droppings) thrown on the ground by spectators.
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Warriors coming down the Omotesando. 武者行列
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Warriors coming down the Omotesando. 武者行列
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Face of a samurai.
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Banners leading the procession.
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Omotesando is the main part of the route to watch the procession. It is the shrine's largest avenue.
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Mikoshi coming through.
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This is near the end of the Omortesando and they turn left to go to the Otabisho resting place.
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12 noon: Otabisho resting place. They arrive and have lunch. The three mikoshi are stored in the building on the upper left. 御旅所御旅所
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Otabisho 御旅所
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Mikoshi stored in the Otabisho's Shinden Hall, a resting place for spirits in transit. 御旅所 御神殿
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Procession banners
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Ceremony at the Otabisho. 御旅所祭
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Ceremony at the Otabisho. 御旅所祭 拝殿
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Ceremony to give offerings to the shrine deity. 三本立七五膳Sanbon-date Shichi-jugo zen

三本立七五膳
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Ceremony to give offerings to the shrine deity. 三本立七五膳Sanbon-date Shichi-jugo zen

三本立七五膳
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Sanbon-date Shichi-jugo zen

三本立七五膳
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Ya-otome no Mai Sacred Dance 八乙女の舞
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Offerings of sea bream (tai)Sanbon-date Shichi-jugo zen

三本立七五膳
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Offering of ducks (dead)
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Azuma-asobi no Mai Dance 東遊の舞
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What happened to the white roof for the musicians? Azuma-asobi no Mai Dance 東遊の舞These pictures were taken in different years and combined.
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Azuma-asobi no Mai Dance 東遊の舞
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Azuma-asobi no Mai Dance 東遊の舞
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Azuma-asobi no Mai Dance musicians
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These two performed the Yaotome-no-Mai. They are leaving the building.
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Dancers leaving the building
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Near departure time at Otabisho
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People get ready to leave and go back to Toshogu Shrine.
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Warriors with shiny gold helmets.
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Wooden birds
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1:00 pm: Departure at Otabisho
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Lion
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Another lion (shi-shi)
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Dance maidens
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Warriors leaving the Otabisho.
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Warriors walk back up the slope in front of the Otabisho.
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Mikoshi is carried out of the Otabisho.
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Mikoshi is carried out of the Otabisho.
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The three mikoshi are carried out of the Otabisho.
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Leaving the Otabisho.
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Shrine priest
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Heading to Omotesando. They follow the same route back.
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Chigo children, notice the Oriental zodiac animals on their crowns.
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Warriors on Omotesando
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Warriors on Omotesando
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Warriors on Omotesando
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Chigo children and assistants make sure the crown doesn't fall off.
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Those crowns are heavy.
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Warriors and Five-story Pagoda
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Mikoshi enter the Ichino-torii
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Mikoshi and Five-story Pagoda
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Mikoshi and Five-story Pagoda
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Warriors going through the Omote-mon Gate.
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Mikoshi coming through Ichino-torii
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Mikoshi going up to Omote-mon Gate
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Another mikoshi going up to Omote-mon Gate
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Shrine priest
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Ichino-torii
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1:30 pm: The end (path to Futarasan Shrine). A similar festival is held in Oct., but on a smaller scale and with only one mikoshi.After the festival ends, there's enough time to see the shrine.
 
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