Around Nara Park:
June 16(thu) – 17(fri) Lily Festival (Saikusa-no-matsuri)
@ Isagawa Shrine
Founded in 593, Isagawa Shrine is one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Nara city. In Lily Festival, Sasayuri lilies (Lilium japonicum) are offered to deities, and people’s health is prayed. A legend tells a female deity enshrined here used to live by a river where Sasayuri lilies bloom beautifully.
On June 16
11:00~ Sasayuri lilies arrive at JR Nara station by a train from Sakurai city, a place where the deity used to live. A group of men carries lilies in a portable alter and walks around the town to Isagawa Shrine. Behind them are dancers wearing Yukata. They dance the dance of lilies with Sasayuri lilies in their hands.
13:00~ Shinto priests report the arrival of lilies to deities.
On June 17
10:30~ Lily Festival, Ritual Ceremony
Sake is offered to deities. Sake containers decorated with lilies look like flower bouquets. Four maidens offer a traditional dance to deities with Sasayuri lilies in their hands.
13:00~ Procession around the town (about two hours)
Miss Lilies and children in traditional outfits walk around the shrine’s neighborhoods.
June 17(fri) Lily Festival (Hana-shizume Sakikusa Matsuri)
10:30~ @Kangou Shrine
Lilies are offered to deities, but this lily festival is known for another offering – a ceremony of Hochodo( a mastery of a knife) called Hochoshiki. The history of Hochodo continues since the 9th century. On this day, a carp will be cut by a skillful master of knife, without a direct contact with the fish and using only chopsticks and knives.
June 19(sun) Thanks-giving Ceremony For Folding Fans (Oogi Kuyo)
People bring in old folding fans to the temple and burn them thanking fans for their long service. Dances are offered too. Time schedule is not released yet, but every year the time is about from 14:00 to 16:00.
June 23(thu) Thanks-giving Ceremony For Bamboos (Take Kuyo)
According to an old folk Chinese belief, around June 23 is the best time to plant a bamboo. Taking a hint from this folk belief, Daianji Temple decided this day as a day to thank Bamboos. As well as the ritual ceremony (13:00~), bamboo related events are held at the temple ground such as a bamboo flute concert and tea whisk makings. And the most popular thing to do is to drink a cup of Sake poured from a bamboo trunk. This Sake is believed to prevent cancer.
June 30(thu) Purification Ceremony For Summer (Natsugoshi-no Ooharaeshiki)
15:00~ @Kasuga Grand Shrine near the second Torii gate
Before hot and humid Japanese summer, Shinto shrines pray for people to stay healthy during summer. At the end of the ceremony, Shinto priests walk through a Chi-no-wa ring, a fresh green grass rope coiled into a 2 meters wide circle. Everyone is welcome to walk through the Chi-no-wa ring to pray for health.
Around Kintetsu Yamato Saidaiji Station:
June 5(sun) – 9(thu) Special Viewing Of A Hidden Statue
@ Hokkeji Temple
The temple’s main object of worship, eleven headed Kannon bodhisattva statue is open to the public. This national treasure statue is from early Heian period (Heian period: 8c.-12c.)
June 6(mon) Special Viewing Of A Hidden Statue
@ Akishinodera Temple
The temple’s hidden Buddhist statue, Daigen Myo-o, a guardian saint in Buddhism, is open to the public only on June 6, annually. The statue is from Kamakura period (12c.–14c.) and is an important cultural property.
Around Horyuji Temple and Nishino-kyo:
June 5(sun) – 6(mon) Priest Ganjin Commemoration Ceremony
@ Toshodaiji Temple
Ganjin is a Buddhist priest who founded Toshodaiji Temple. June 6 is his death anniversary. Ritual ceremonies are held to commemorate him.
On June 5
9:00~ Offertory of incense and tea by a tea master. Buddhist priest chant while the offertories are made.
16:00~ Ritual ceremony commemorating the temple’s founder
On June 6
13:00~ Ritual ceremony commemorating the temple’s founder
June 5(sun) – June 7(tue) Special Viewing Of A Hidden Statue And Drawings
9:00~16:00 @ Founder’s Hall (Kaizan Mieido) in Toshodaiji Temple
A national treasure statue of Ganjin, the temple’s founder, is open to the public for only three days a year. The statue depicts the last moment of him – he died while sitting in a meditation. Drawings on Fusuma sliding doors are masterpieces by Higashiyama Kaii.