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Kyokusui-no-en is a Japanese traditional ceremony held at
Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrineon first Sunday of March, a purification
ceremony on a winding stream, is performed by ladies and gentlemen
in a ceremonial court robe under the plum blossoms in full-bloom.

After the Tobiume-no-mai dance by shrine maidens, 
Kyokusui-no-En Festival begins.
Vermilion-lacquered cups full of sake are set afloat down 
the stream. 

Before the cups reach each of the participants sitting along 
the stream, they have to make up a Japanese poem called 
waka, and write it down on a strip of fancy paper.
When the cups reach the participants, they drink the sake 
and hand the paper strip and cup over to an attendant.

The ceremony has its origin in a historical fact that 
Ono-no-Yoshifuru, an elder brother of a noted-calligrapher 
Ono-no-Tofu, held a ceremony to appease the soul of 
Michizane Sugawara and to beguile tedious hours 
in a rural life.


 - Blog, About Japan