Hongu Taisha Spring Festival

Keeping traditions alive in Kumano

By Alena Eckelmann    - 1 min read

The spring festival at the Hongu Taisha (April 13th to 15th) gets absolutely everyone in Hongu Town—from the young to the old—to participate to keep traditions alive. First a ceremony takes place at Hongu Taisha, one of the Three Kumano Grand Shrines, where a procession is forming. Then the procession makes its way to Oyunohara, a sandbank in the Kumano River and one of Kumano’s most holy sites. There a another ceremony is performed to honor the Kumano Deities and the tradition of the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage. Participants wear period costumes making for an authentic experience much to the enjoyment of visitors who join the locals in their festivities.

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Alena Eckelmann

Alena Eckelmann @alena.eckelmann

Born East of the Wall and South of Berlin, I am celebrating my 15th year anniversary in Japan in May 2020, the country that I call home now. I lived in crazy Tokyo for 6 years and since 2011 I call the beautiful Kii Peninsula (Kumano, Koyasan and Yoshinoyama) my home.I have been a JapanTravel Partner since the conception of the platform in 2011! In Tokyo I worked in market research at AIP Corporation and in business education at JMEC. For the last 10 years I have been a guide for foreign visitors at Venture Japan, on top of being a Freelance Writer and a Business Researcher.  Apart from work, I trained at the Yoshinkan Aikido Dojo and at the Oedo Sukeroku Taiko Dojo for several years each, and I ran the 1st Tokyo Marathon and enjoyed cycling around Tokyo. During the last 10 years I am working with local authorities to improve their hospitality to foreign visitors and I have participated in many monitors as a media representative.  My current interest is in Japanese nature and spirituality. I love spending time in the forest and mountains, and I love visiting temples and shrines.   I am a licensed guide for the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage trails  and for Koyasan, the Buddhist monastery, in addition to being a practitioner and licensed guide for Forest Therapy (Shinrin Therapy).  As a guide for walking tours, I have taken visitors to walk the Kumano Kodo trails, the Nakasendo trail and the Shikoku 88 temple pilgrimage trail.  Being grounded during this COVID-19 crisis, I enjoy gardening, baking bread in my new Japanese bread-maker and going for walks around 'my' village.  Take care, keep well, stay safe!