May 17May 18
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The Grand Festival (例大祭) at Nikko Toshogu Shrine is held on 17 & 18 May every year in honour of the Tokugawa clan, under whose 260-year rule Japan’s culture flourished. The festival starts with a ceremony at 10am on the first day, followed by a display of yabusame (horseback archery) held from 1pm. But it is the procession of 1,000 samurai (百物揃千人武者行列, Hyakumonozoroi Sennin Musha Gyōretsu) held from 11am on the final for which the festival is most famous. Here, over 1,200 attendants divided into 53 categories parade escort portable shrines to the Otabi-sho (Sojourn Hall), a resting point for a shrine during a procession, before returning to Toshogu Shrine to re-enact the burial of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

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