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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ebisu-kou and Bettara fair

Bettara fair(Bettara Ichi) is held in the area around Takarada shrine(宝田神社) at Nihonbashi in Tokyo on October 19th and 20th.
Bettarazuke (べったら漬) is a kind of pickled daikon.

On the 20th day of the 10th month in the lunar calendar, shrines across Japan held Ebisu-kou(えびす講).
Foods for offerings to Ebisu have been sold on a fair the day before Ebisu-kou since the middle of the Edo Period. Bettarazuke became popular on the fair and the fair came to be called Bettara Fair.

Ebisu(夷、戎、胡、蛭子、恵比須、恵比寿、恵美須) is an ancient Japanese god and is famous for one of the Seven Gods of Fortune (七福神, Shichifukujin). He holds a rod with his right hand and a sea bream under his left arm, so he was regarded as the god of fishermen and good fortune.

It is said that the Japanese gods gather at Izumo Taisha Shrine(出雲大社) in Shimane Prefecture in the 10th month in the lunar calendar and Ebisu looks after people during their absence.
So he came to be regarded as the god who brings people success in business and the safety of their families.

On the 20th day, merchant families shut their shops up early, made offerings such as a sea bream, libations, rice cakes and fruits to Ebisu and held dinner parties for their business associates and relatives in the Edo Period. Now it's not held.
There is a bunraku play with the scene of such a party.

Many shrines hold Ebisu-kou on November 19th and 20th because the 10th month in the lunar calendar corresponds approximately to November.

Nishinomiya Jinja(西宮神社) in Nishinomiya City of Hyogo Prefecture is the head shrine that is dedicated to Ebisu(or informally, "Ebessan").
The shrine and the shrines under it hold Toka-Ebisu(十日えびす) for several days around January 10th. Toka-Ebisu is also a festival to pray for the prosperity of business. Visitors buy a good luck bamboo branch and pray to Ebisu.

People living around the shrine locked a door with a key, put out a light and stayed at home on the evening of the 9th of the 1st month in the lunar calendar because Ebisu ran around the streets during the night. Now its main gate is opened at six in the morning of January 10th, and many men rush into the main hall to win laurels as "Lucky Men".

In the meantime, why the Japanese gods gather at Izumo Taisha Shrine?
Because they have a meeting to make a good match between people.

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