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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Individual Shrine Observances
A festival held on the seventeenth day of the six month in the lunar calendar at Itsukushima Jinja in Miyajima Town, Saeki County, Hiroshima Prefecture. Kangen is an ensemble composed of three woodwind instruments (kan: flute [fue], a flageolet-like instrument [hichiriki] and a free-reed mouth organ [shō]), three stringed instruments (gen: a Japanese lute [biwa], a thirteen-string koto [] and a six-string koto [wagon]) and three drums (ko: large drum [taiko], waist drum [katsuko] and hanging bronze gong [shōko]). At about five o'clock in the afternoon there is a departing processional. A beautiful phoenix palanquin (hōren) procession moves from the dance stage down to the beach at low tide and meets the waiting gozabune (sacred boat) at the offing of the large torii in the water. Three oared boats pull the gozabune, on which the phoenix palanquin has been set, guiding it to the pond in front of the Jigozen Jinja on the opposite shore for a ceremony. During the entire time the kangen ensemble is playing. The boats then proceed around to the two shrines Nagahama Jinja and Daigen Jinja. The gozabune and its accompanying boats are decorated with chōchin lanterns, while votive bonfires are lit on shore. Returning to the main shrine (honsha), the sacred boat enters into the innermost part of the honden (main hall), which is called the "Masu-shaped Room" (a masu is a kind of measuring device, roughly square), and circles the inside three times. At this time the kangen performs in a fast rhythm. The phoenix palanquin is taken off the gozabune and returns to its original location. In Itsukushima Shrine's gagaku (sacred shrine music) kangen performances, there are twelve total pieces, including eleven Tang (Chinese) pieces and one saibara (a Nara period piece). This festival is Itsukushima's largest, and a large number of visitors attend.

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"Establishment of a National Learning Institute for the Dissemination of Research on Shinto and Japanese Culture"
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