1,000 Samurai Warriors in Nikko

Last Thursday the girls and I headed to Nikko, a town about 3 hours away, for the Nikko Autumn Festival, or, Shuki Taisai. The highlight of this festival is the grand procession of 1,000 Samurai Warriors, wearing over 100 different costumes. This procession is a reenactment of the funeral for Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo Shogunate (in the 17th century), and the backdrop is the beautiful Toshogu Shrine, his final resting place.

 We were joined by my good friend Merri Kever and her cute kids, Tommy, Stanley, Molly and little Audrey.

A quick pic with some of the Samurai.

The famous “see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil” monkeys originated here at the Toshogu Shrine. This is the original carving.

The beauty, and intricate detail of these buildings cannot even be described. The pictures definitely don’t do them justice!

Another friendly participant.

This is the main building of the shrine. They were not allowing anyone inside for some reason, we will have to do that next time.

We hiked up this VERY long staircase to see the actual tomb of the shogun.

The burial place seemed kind of plain compared to everything else!

Waiting for the parade to begin.

Shoes of a samurai warrior. Matt can never again accuse ME of improper footwear!

 This procession has happened twice a year, every year, for over 300 years.

The samurai warriors.

Cute little boys.

This group had strange masks on their heads.

The drum.

The gong.

 You can see how varied the costumes were. Each group represented something different in the procession.

And finally, the shrine. People were throwing coins and folded up prayer papers at the shrine.

Some little boys followed behind to pick up the money, I guess as a sort of offering.

This picture was taken at neighboring shrine.

Similar to gargoyles, these statues guard the shrine from evil. There were several different styles, in all shapes and colors. They were fascinating. 

 Lots and lots of “solid gold things”.

The whole gang.

Japan has such a rich culture and heritage that goes back thousands of years. I have really enjoyed learning about and experiencing these customs. Some of the parade costumes alone were older than the entire USA, (over 300 years)! This was one of the best adventures I have ever had. Such a fun day!

**A quick side note** One of the best parts of the day was when we ordered six ice cream cones at a small café, and received four ice cream cones and two bowls of noodles. Lol! Lost in translation?


  1. Jeff Jonsson
    October 20, 2013 / 2:46 pm

    So cool!

  2. Amara
    October 31, 2013 / 8:26 pm

    Amazing. Your kids are very very lucky to have all of this culture thrown at them at such young ages. It's got to wake things up in their brains that the rest of us can't imagine. (I'm channeling the author Willa Cather here,). Anyway thanks for posting!

  3. J.L.C.
    October 17, 2014 / 5:02 pm

    Your photos are amazing! I saw the festival today and it was like that in your blog!

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