16Huge bonfires were originally lit on boats and along the Okawa River to illuminate and visually dramatize the festivities during the Tenmangu Shrine's Tenjin Festival in Osaka, which began in 951. The deity dwelling in the Tenmangu Shrine leaves the main shrine on a portable platform once a year to confirm parishioners are leading a happy existence. Elated parishioners parade the deity through the city's narrow streets and alleyways on an elaborately constructed mikoshi float and entertain the deity before returning him to his shrine. Carrying the portable shrine involves a detailed protocol whereby the position of the bearers, the body parts used, the synchronization and rhythm of movement, and even the way of walking duck-footed are prescribed. The Concierge in the Imperial Hotel, Osaka, knows the best way for you to enjoy this exuberant celebration of rich Osaka culture.Another of Tokyo's most widely embraced festivals, the Kanda Matsuri at the Kanda Myojin Shrine in central Tokyo, salutes three deities: Daikokuten, the household god of good harvests and matrimony; Ebisu, the ubiquitous god of fisherman and profitable commerce; and Taira Masakado, a 10th century feudal lord who was revered and deified. This festival is relatively new, having started during the Edo Period (1603 to 1867) when the Tokugawa Shogunate began to rule the nation from Edo (today's Tokyo), when the event was celebrated as a demonstration of imminent affluence and prosperity under the new regime. The processions of the Kanda Matsuri were one of only two popular civic celebrations permitted to pass through the august grounds of Edo Castle. The Kanda Festival, held once every two years, consists of numerous events held over an entire week, highlights being a day-long procession through central Tokyo on Saturday and rollicking parades of portable shrines through Kanda's various neighborhoods on Sunday. Overseas visitors are warmly welcomed to take part in the fun.

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