This event originating during the Heian period (794 - 1185 AD), is the largest annual festival observed at Itsukushima Shrine, and takes place on the night of June 17th of the lunar calender.
|Date||July 20, 2016(Wed)
※June 17th by the lunar calendar
|Location||Itsukushima Shrine and other shrines|
* Times are subject to change.
The origin of the festival
The Kangensai Festival reproduces a dynastic spectacle of the Monarchial Age on June 17th of the lunar calender, and has become one of the greatest festival of Itsukushima Shrine. When Taira-no-Kiyomori was appointed the governor of Aki Province in 1146, he remodeled Itsukushima Shrine and dedicated various kinds of treasure and performing arts to show his devout faith to the gods of the shire.
In those days, aristocratic entertainment or court music was often performed in the capital and Kiyomori introduces it to Miyajima. Kangen is, to be exact, court music played with three strings (Wagon, biwa ,koto), three drums (Kakko, taiko, shoko), and three flutes (sho, hishikiri, ryuteti).
Though in the capital, they played court music for entertainment, kiyomori dedicated it to Itsukushima Shrine, and instead of floating a Ryuto-gekishu boat (a boat with a carved dragon head and waterfowl neck decoration in front) in the court pond or in the river, he floated the boat in the sea.
The date was fixed as June 17th of the lunar calendar, considering the weather conditions. As they needed big boats to carry a large number of players, they must have used trading vessels to China. The tide should be high enough for deep-draft vessels to touch down, so they chose the day when the spring tide occurs in June, avoiding the typhoon season in July and August. The reason they fixed the day as 17th is that the moon on that day is nearly full. It's the best time to come back from Jigozen Shrine on the mainland to Miyajima, looking up at the moon that appears by the edge of the mountain on Miyajima.