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Osaka’s Aizen Festival begins

by Akira Okubo

Staff Writer

Even though it is mid-rainy season, the Aizen Festival anticipates the hot summer ahead with a parade of women wearing cool and attractive yukata (light kimono). As Osaka’s first summer festival of the year, this is held from June 30 to July 2 at Shoman-in, also known as Aizendou, a 1,400 year-old temple commissioned by Prince Shotoku. On the first day of celebrations, palanquins bearing young women in yukata are carried through the streets and toward Shoman-in. Every year, 12 women are chosen from numerous applicants to join the parade, which takes place before a beauty contest at the temple on July 1.

On each of the three days, the first 100 visitors wearing yutaka will be given prayer-bead bracelets by the Aizen women and there will be dance and comedy performances at the temple. The temple’s statue of the Buddhist deity of love Aizenmyouou, which is usually kept from public display, will also be exhibited, and various stalls in the temple grounds will offer refreshments, goods, souvenirs and games.

Aizen Festival takes place from June 30 to July 2 at Aizendou Shoman-in at Tennoji-ku, Osaka. Performances start from 6 p.m daily, and the parade on June 30 starts from AbenoQ’s Mall at 2 p.m. Admission is free. For more information call 06-6779-5800 or visit www.aizendo.com.