Osaka’s Ikukunitama Shrine set to revive ritual for first time in 70 years

Kyodo

Ikukunitama Shrine in Osaka next month will revive a Shinto ritual using a newly built “gohoren,” or a phoenix float, after a hiatus of 70 years.

The float was shown to the media for the first time Tuesday.

A phoenix float was traditionally used at a ritual involving transferring the shrine’s deity from its place of enshrinement to Osaka Castle.

Officials of the shrine, known as “Ikutamasan” and located in Tennoji Ward, said about a decade was needed to plan and build a new float.

The new vessel will be used for the first time during the summer celebration planned for July 12.

The annual event features a procession led by “makura daiko,” or pillow drums, that according to legend Toyotomi Hideyoshi offered in dedication to the shrine’s deity.

Ever since Toyotomi rebuilt the shrine in 1603, it has become a guardian god of Osaka Castle.

During the celebration, which is attended by about 1,000 local residents every year, the “gohoren” is paraded along a 3-km-long route. The festival also features a traditional lion dance performance given by local elementary and junior high school children.

The initiative to rebuild the float was inspired by the parishioners’ long-cherished desire to revive the shrine’s long-held tradition.

According to Ikukunitama Shrine’s officials, the ritual with the use of a phoenix float was last conducted in 1944, not long before World War II came to an end.

Since 1990, the shrine’s deity has been loaded onto a truck and transported to Osaka Castle.

The officials said, however, that the newly built float will only be used to move the deity from the shrine to the castle and that trucks will be used to bring it back home again.