Check out these articles

Check out these articles

The Otaue Rice Planting Festival at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine: Video Introduction

This video, titled "Osaka Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine's Otaue Rice Planting Festival" (大阪・住吉大社「御田植」 3年ぶりに歌や踊りも披露), was uploaded by KYODO NEWS.

The "Otaue Shinji (rice planting ritual)" is usually held on June 14 to pray for a bountiful harvest. It was suspended after the Corona disaster, but will be restored in 2022.

The video shows how the "ueme" (rice planting maidens) receive the seedlings from the gods and how the farmers plant them in the paddy fields on the shrine grounds, as well as the samurai event and the dancing of the yaotome maidens. Be sure to check out the footage of the Otaue Festival held at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine in the video.

The Otaue Rice Planting Festival of Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine: History, Etc.

Image of the samurai procession during the Otaue Rice Planting Festival at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine, Osaka, Japan
Photo:The samurai procession during the Otaue Rice Planting Festival at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine, Osaka, Japan

The history of the rice planting ritual held at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine is long, dating back to the time when the legendary Empress Jingu was enshrined at the shrine, according to legends. It appears that the festival was held on a large scale as well, as there are records of performing arts such as sarugaku and dengaku being performed during the Kamakura period (circa 1185-1333 A.D.).

Although the festival was in danger of being discontinued during the Meiji Restoration (1868-1912 A.D.), it has continued to survive to the present day and has been designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property by the government of Japan. It's also known as one of the three major rice planting festivals in Japan, along with the festivals held at Katori Jingu Shrine and Izawa no Miya Shrine.

The rice planting festival of Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine has many highlights. The first is the dance performed in the center of the rice field by the yaotome. Eight Yaotome dancers dance around an umbrella to the accompaniment of songs sung by the priests.
[Video] 0:06 - Yaotome Dancing

There is also a samurai procession, in which brave warriors in armor appear. It is said that the warriors prayed for the longevity of their military fortunes, and the highlight of the festival is the warriors showing off their military prowess. The event is also believed to be a prayer to ward off evil spirits.
[Video] 0:18 - The Samurai Procession

The children can also be seen performing the traditional rice planting dance and songs for the first time in three years, reviving one of the highlights of the festival.
[Video] 1:09 - The Rice Planting Song and Dance

Another highlight of the festival is the Sumiyoshi Odori dance, performed in unique costumes to the sound of tapping umbrella handles.

Deities Worshipped at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine

Image of Hatsutatsu-mairi, a visit to four shrines, at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine, Osaka
Photo:Hatsutatsu-mairi, a visit to four shrines, at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine, Osaka

Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine is said to have been established approximately 1,800 years ago. The shrine was originally built by Empress Jingu upon her safe return from the Silla (an ancient Korean kingdom) invasion. It is also known as the head shrine of the more than 2,300 Sumiyoshi shrines throughout Japan.

The three deities of Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine are Sokotsutsuno-o no Mikoto, Nakatsutsuno-o no Mikoto, and Uwatsutsuno-o no Mikoto. Amaterasu and Empress Jingu are also enshrined here as well. These gods were born when Izanagi no Mikoto cleansed the land.

These deities are said to have been born when Izanagi no Mikoto performed misogi (A Shinto water purification ritual), and are said to protect against all kinds of misfortune by purifying the body and mind.

Many Japanese shrines use dragons as motifs for their handbasins, but Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine uses rabbits. There is also a "nade-usagi" (petting rabbit) made of stone on the shrine grounds that can be stroked to pray for good health. The origin of this festival is said to be that Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine was founded on the first day of the first month of the year of the hare in the year of the "Kano-tou" (the year of the hare). In the year of the Rabbit, the shrine is especially crowded with people.

Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine: A Power Spot in Osaka

Image of the light-heavy stone at Shumiyoshi Taisha Shrine, Osaka
Photo:The light-heavy stone at Shumiyoshi Taisha Shrine, Osaka

Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine is well-known by the people of Osaka and Japan's Kinki region. The shrine has been worshipped as the first shrine in the Settsu Province since ancient times, and is now regarded as one of the best power spots in Osaka. Power spots are places in Japan that are deemed sacred, and are said to be places where one can receive healing or blessings.

Additionally, there are many good luck charms that can be purchased at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine.

One attraction at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine is the "Omokaruseki" (light or heavy stone), which will tell you if your wishes will come true, and a rare maneki neko (beckoning cat) wearing a kamishimo (formal samurai attire). It's very photogenic and many people come visit to take Instagram photos here.

The Sumiyoshi Festival: A Unique Summer Festival in Osaka

Image of the portable shrine washing ritual of the Sumiyoshi Festival, Osaka
Photo:The portable shrine washing ritual of the Sumiyoshi Festival, Osaka

The Sumiyoshi Festival is the last of the three major festivals of Osaka. It's a summer festival of Osaka that is said to begin with the Aizen Festival and end with the Sumiyoshi Festival. It's held as an annual festival of Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine, and the portable shrine procession is held on the last day of the festival.

●Mikoshi Arai Shinji (washing of the portable shrine)
Mikoshi Arai Shinji is a ceremony to purify the portable shrine by sprinkling seawater on it prior to the portable shrine procession on the last day of the Sumiyoshi Festival. In the early morning, a special boat is launched with the cooperation of the local fishermen to pump the seawater.

●Nagoshi no Harae Shinji (summer purification ceremony)
After the purification ceremony, visitors to the shrine, together with shrine maidens and children, walk through a ring of cogon grass to cleanse themselves of the impurities of the past six months. This is a ceremony to pray for good health for the remaining six months of the year.

●Mikoshi Togyo (portable shrine procession)
Mikoshi Togyo is a ceremony held on the last day of the Sumiyoshi Festival. The portable shrine carries the spirit of Sumiyoshi Ookami in a portable shrine and parades along the road to Shukuin Shrine in the city of Sakai. Weighing nearly 2 tons and measuring 11 meters long, the sight of the extremely large portable shrine crossing Sorihashi Bridge is a heroic sight. When it arrives at the Shukuin Shrine, a purification ceremony is held.

Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine: Admission Fee, Hours, and How to Get There

Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine is located slightly south of central Osaka where major tourist attractions like Osaka Castle are located. The easiest way to get to Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine is to take a train to Sumiyoshitoriimae Station. After arriving at the station, it's an approximately 3-minute walk to the shrine. From Osaka Station you can take the Osaka Loop Line to Tennoji Station, walk to Tennojiekimae Station (5 minutes) and then take the Hankaidenki-Uemachi Line (阪堺電気軌道上町線)—a streetcar—to Sumiyoshitoriimae Station (住吉鳥居前) (approximately 40 minutes).

Admission Fee: Free
Hours: 6:00 am - 5:00 pm (April to September), 6:30 am - 5:00 pm (October to March)
※The Souvenir shop is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Summary of Festivals at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine

Various events and rituals are held at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine. However, in the past few years, events and rituals have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Now that travel restrictions have been lifted, the Otaue Rice Planting Festival at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine is now able to include worshippers and we can once again see the splendid dances of the shrine maidens and heroic appearance of the samurai procession.

Sumiyoshi Taisha's rice planting festival is held to pray for a good harvest and to ward off epidemics. If you're in Osaka around this time of year, be sure to stop by and see the festival. You're sure to be fascinated by the solemnity and splendor of the ancient Shinto rituals!

【Official Website】Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine

【TripAdvisor】Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine

Written By
Last Updated : Jun. 15, 2023
平敷 篤(Atsushi Heishiki)
My name is Atsushi Heishiki, a writer who loves Japanese culture and lives in Okinawa.
The Otaue Rice Planting Festival – A Summer Festival at Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine in Osaka! Experience Japanese Culture at This Traditional Japanese Summer Event!
If this article interests you, be sure to leave a follow.

Recommended Articles