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The busiest time of year for Toka Ebisu Shrine (which houses the Shinto god Ebisu) is during the “Toka Ebisu Festival (Taisai)”, which takes place around January 10. During this four-day festival, about one million worshippers visit to pray for good luck and commercial success in the New Year, and nearly 300 stalls line the shrine grounds! Toka Ebisu Taisai starts on January 8 with “Hatsu Ebisu” and is followed by Yoi Ebisu, Seitaisai, and Nokori Ebisu.
Among the festivities, the “kachi mairi” (where beautiful female performers called geiko from Hakata visit Toka Ebisu Shrine) on the afternoon of the 9th is particularly spectacular. The ladies wear elegant kimonos called “montsuki seiso” and style their hair in an old-fashioned coiffure accessorized with an ornamental hairpiece. The sight of the ladies making their way to the shrine to pray accompanied by the sounds of the shamisen (3-stringed Japanese banjo), flutes, and drums never fails to attract a crowd!