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Motomiya Festival: A Celebration of Lanterns and Tradition at Fushimi Inari Shrine

Fushimi Inari Shrine Festival

Fushimi Inari Shrine Illuminated in Vermillion Light

The highly acclaimed Motomiya Festival, one of the Kyoto events in July, is held annually at Fushimi Inari Shrine (伏見稲荷大社, Fushimi Inari-taisha) on a Sunday in July, following the Day of the Ox. Inari Okami’s sub-shrine worshippers from all across Japan gather at the head shrine to express gratitude for the divine blessings. This unique festival combines colorful lanterns with traditional Japanese performances, painting a stunning picture amidst the vibrant vermillion torii gates.

The festivities commence with Yoimiya, held on the day before Motomiya Festival. Yoimiya features the lighting of stone and paper lanterns throughout Fushimi Inari Shrine at night. On both days of the festival, thousands of lanterns illuminate the shrine and its grounds, casting a mysterious red glow over this iconic Kyoto landmark.


Ritual of a Thousand Lanterns

The Yoimiya Festival is marked by an enchanting ritual known as the “ritual of a thousand lanterns.” A priest from Fushimi Inari Shrine lights up the first lantern, after which worshippers and visitors follow suit, igniting each lantern until all are ablaze. As night falls and darkness settles in, the main hall is bathed in an ethereal red light emanating from the numerous stone and paper lanterns.

Artists Showcase Paintings on Lantern Paper

During both days of the Motomiya Festival, talented Japanese artists exhibit their paintings on lantern paper within Fushimi Inari Shrine’s Gehaiden hall. With over 400 captivating artworks adorning the illuminated space, visitors can freely admire Japanese and Western-style creations that reflect diverse artistic perspectives.

Motomiya Dance and Taiko Drum Performance

The festival’s vibrant atmosphere is further amplified through engaging activities like the Motomiya dance, which commences at 7 p.m. on both days in front of Fushimi Inari Shrine’s Sanshuden hall. Attendees are encouraged to join the traditional dance, inviting everyone to participate in this unique cultural experience.

Adding to the festive soundscape, Japanese Taiko drum performances enthrall visitors during the afternoon on both days of the festival. Presented by Kyoto University students as an offering to the gods, the synchronicity of the drums’ beats creates a magical and unforgettable sensory experience.

vermilion torii shrine gates

Best Time to Experience Fushimi Inari Shrine

While Fushimi Inari Shrine remains a must-see attraction throughout the year, it truly comes alive during the Motomiya Festival with an array of festivities and performances. Visitors can soak in the charming ambiance of the glowing lanterns amidst the torii gates, enjoy traditional dance and drumming events, and witness breathtaking artistic creations.

Don’t miss out on this extraordinary opportunity to experience Fushimi Inari Shrine during Motomiya Festival – embrace Japan’s rich cultural heritage while surrounded by vivid colors and enchanting performances.

The summer season in Kyoto brings forth a vibrant tapestry of traditional festivals that capture the essence of Japanese culture. Two remarkable events, the Mizu Matsuri and the Motomiya Festival, hold great significance and allure for locals and visitors alike.

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