Japanese Festival and Traditional Annual Event: Akoh Gishi Sai

by ebazaar 12 December 2009 No Comment

Akoh Gishi Sai or “The Forty-Seven Loyal Retainers in Akoh” is one of the many festivals in Japan, which is traditional in nature.

If you’ve heard of the samurai movie ‘Chushingura’, then you have all the reason to know about Akoh Gishi Sai. If you are a follower of the Japanese culture, history and lifestyle, you will probably have noticed the extent of loyalty in their lives. Being loyal to one’s Country, King, Lords, Masters and Parents is basic knowledge and ethic in the Japanese people since the ancient times. Although in the modern society, it is not much weighted on by younger generations; this part of ethical obligation is still and perhaps forever be in the blood and flesh of the Japanese people.

Japan Traditional Event Gishi Sai (Credit:Denchan)

Japan Traditional Event Gishi Sai (Credit:Denchan)

Origin and Nature of The Akoh Gishi Sai Festival

Akoh Gishi Sai is actually more of a memorial service that turned into a festival and celebration that honors 47 ronin (masterless samurai) who avenged their master’s death by killing his rival, parading his head before committing suicide themselves as ordered by the law. The incident took place in 1703 when the Lord of the 47 samurai warriors, was forced to take his own life by committing hara-kiri. Their tale since then had been adapted into many forms of art like Joruri (a narrative ballad), in Kabuki, movies, TV dramas, plays and novels where the story is more commonly known as Chushingura (“The Loyal Retainers”) and Akoh Roshi (“Akoh‘s Masterless Samurai”).

It is celebrate every year on December 14th and it took place at Sengakuji Temple, which is the site of the 47 ronin and their master’s burial. It is not exactly Japan’s national holiday and the crowd for the festival usually starts in the morning and carried out till evening. Every year on this day, forty-seven volunteers dressed as the ronin travel to Sengakuji temple, parading with the man-made replica of enemy’s head and striking banners through the streets. This particular procession is called as Gishi Gyoretsu and the entire neighborhood usually became packed with crowds of visitors from all parts of Japan as well as curious foreigners. There will be temple service, people paying homage at the temple, other activities for kids and adults alike and traditional music and dancing performances. There are also a lot of street stalls just outside the temple grounds. Basically, there are various events including speech and involvement made by well-known figure such as entertainment and sports person.

There’s also the Akoh Gishi Memorial Museum, which was completed in 2001, exactly 300 years after the death of their Master, standing in the temple precincts, exhibits momento of the vassals as well as various articles associated with the incident.A great visit for people who have high passion for art and history.

Akoh Gishi Sai Information

  • Dates: December 14th
  • Places: Sengakuji Temple, 2-11-1, Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tokyo
  • Getting there:
  • Underground: Toei Asakusa Line to Sengakuji Station then 1 minute walk.
  • Train: Near Shinagawa Station.



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