Kashima city, Ibaraki


Around Kashima Jingu (shrine), Kashima city, Ibaraki
Google MAP


March 9th


Kashima Jingu/+81-299-82-1209

Related Web Site

Kashima city Homepage


Saitosai is the most elaborate Shinto ritual hosted by Kashima Jingū, the oldest shrine in the Kanto region. Kashima Jingū is dedicated to Takemikazuchi-no-Ōkami, the most powerful patron god of the military arts and the god of victory. The origins of Saitousai date back to the Nara period (758–811), when soldiers left home to garrison at strategic posts in Kyushu. The festival was held to pray for good fortune in battle. Additionally, this festival is combined with the ceremony heralding the arrival of spring in the region. Ohayashi, traditional Japanese music for festivals, is played to carry the wishes for bumper crops for the year.

A ritual leader known as the Daisoutoku or Shibochi is selected each year from boys around the age of five. On the morning of the festival, the boy in Kariginu (informal clothes worn by court nobles) enters the worship hall surrounded by his entire family, and the ceremony begins in a solemn atmosphere. As the ceremony ends, the boy returns to the Honjin (headquarters of the army set up especially for the ritual) to change from Kariginu into armor. In the afternoon, a procession led by the Daisoutoku steps off to the sounds of drums and Japanese shell horns.

Brightly dressed people proceed in a circle, singing Hayashi Uta (festival songs) and repeatedly arrange the six-foot wooden (oak) poles overhead. The procession clatters its way through the main streets of the area and finally returns to the shrine. In the evening, everyone gathers in the precincts for the grand finale. They make loud sounds together with their poles. At the end of the day, the spring festival is held, and the next year’s Daisoutoku or Shibochi is selected by the fortunetelling.

Map & 360 degree view