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Also called "Sennin Gyoretsu" (1,000-person Procession 千人行列), this is Nikko's largest festival held on May 17-18. The highlight is a long procession of over 1,000 people dressed in various costumes.The three portable shrines are dedicated to the spirits of Tokugawa Ieyasu, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Minamoto Yoritomo. Photos start with May 17 at Toshogu Shrine, when priests gathered for a 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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