Osaka, located in the Kansai region of Japan, is popularly known as a merchant town. Its businessmen show great skills in negotiations. In order to receive more good luck, businessmen try to receive charms for business prosperity by attending a festival called “Toka Ebisu.” It is primarily held at Imamiya Ebisu Shrine- a shrine dedicated to the god of fishermen or business (Ebisu). This is a grand event which has continued since the Edo Period.
The main festival occurs on the 10th of January which is attended by more than 1 million people. All of them are praying for great success in business. Bamboo branches known as “fukusasa” are the primary harbingers of good luck. These are decorated with lucky items such as sea bream, oval gold coins and rice bales. A group of maiko (apprentice geisha) does the crafting of the branches into decorations. The miko (or female shaman) do a dance while the maiko sell the branches!
Toka Ebisu also displays beautiful lanterns, great music and the chance to meet some celebrities! The most awaited event is the “Good Luck Palanquin Parade” where 600 celebrities, geishas and fuku-musume parade through the streets. Their goal is to give out lucky charms or goods to the spectators. Fuku-musume are known as “good luck girls.” They are responsible for selling the lucky charms to people. Competition for the position is quite tough, as there is a series of auditions necessary to be chosen! There are thousands of girls who usually apply for it yearly. Foreign people may have a greater chance of being selected due to a smaller number of applicants compared to Japanese. Another advantage is, chosen women receive a lot of marriage proposals!
Toka Ebisu is just one of the popular ways for businesses to receive good luck during the New Year. If you have a thriving business, better mark your calendar on the 10th of January and head to Imamiya Ebisu Shrine!