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The Gosekku (五節句), also known as sekku (節句), are the five annual ceremonies that were traditionally held at the Japanese imperial court. The origins were adapted from Chinese practices and celebrated in Japan since the Nara period in the 8-10th century CE. The festivals were held until the beginning of the Meiji era. Some of them are still celebrated by the public today.

  • Kochōhai: on New Year's, the nobles processed before the emperor during the Jinjitsu celebrations.
  • Kyokusui: on the third day of the third lunar month, courtiers floated rice wine down a stream in the palace garden. Each guest would take a sip and then write a poem. The Hinamatsuri festival continues today.
  • Ayame no hi : on the fifth day of the fifth month, mugwort was hung to dispel evil spirits. Celebrated as the Japanese iris (ayame) festival at court, today it is known as Tango no sekku.
  • Kikkoden: on the seventh day of the seventh month, offerings were made during the Tanabata festival, which celebrated the annual crossing of the Weaver (Vega) and Cowherd (Altair) constellations.
  • Chōyō no en: on the ninth day of the ninth month, a celebration was held that originally featured chrysanthemum wine, but later became associated with the autumn rice harvest. It is today known as the Kiku no sekku.

The artist Ikeda Koson (1801-1866) painted five hanging scrolls in around 1830, which depict the festivals.[1]


  1. ^ "Object | Online | Collections | Freer and Sackler Galleries". Asia.si.edu. 2013-03-15. Retrieved 2016-02-25.
  • Arai Hakuseki, Joyce Ackroyd (trans.), Told Round a Brushwood Fire, University of Tokyo Press (1979), 286n122.