The Grand Festival of Spring, Shunki Reitaisai, features an amazing procession of 1,000 men dressed as samurai warriors. The procession is called Hyakumono-Zoroe Sennin Gyoretsu and is the highlight of the entire festival.
The festival is held at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Nikko Toshogu Shrine in Sannai, Nikko City in Japan and the procession recreates the scene of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s (1542-1616) grave being transferred in accordance with his will.
The procession leaves from a shrine called by the Shinkyo Bridge and is lead by three portable shrines that carry spirits of the three Shoguns. Shinto priests follow on horseback along with samurai warriors wearing full armor.
If you catch the festival you can listen to the ancient court music and watch the dance performances. The festival provides an excellent insight into the ancient cultures of a fascinating country.
By Julie Bowman