Eejanaika (ええじゃないか)

Eejanaika is a social phenomenon observed from the end of the Edo period, August 1867 (表記の変更) to the beginning of the Meiji period, April 1868 (表記の変更), starting from Edo and extending to the Shikoku region with the Tokai and Kinki regions as its centers. Along with a widespread rumor that 'ofuda' (talismans) would falls down from heaven, which was believed a preamble of auspicious events, people in a clown like outfit went out and walked around their neighborhood in group with enthusiasm by repeatedly shouting 'eejanaika' (literally means 'it's good,' as an utterance added to complete the rhythm of a song).


The purpose is not known. As the political situation was often sung with utterances to maintain the rhythm of a song, it is generally understood that it was a people's movement wishing for a better society. There is another theory that it was a diversionary move caused by the anti-Shogunate group to provoke confusions in Japan. There is also a theory that it was a tactic 'to discharge people's accumulated complaints' plotted by bakufu (Japanese feudal government headed by a shogun) to avoid social disruption by the oppressed people suffering aftereffects of the bubble economy in the Edo period. Regardless of the real intension, many people seem to have been just enjoying it by taking advantage of this boom, since some lyrics contained ill-tasted words.


According to the report 'Iwakura Tomomi Jikki' written by Tomomi IWAKURA, in the capital Kyoto, talismans were distributed and people enthusiastically sang out 'yoijanaika, eejanaika, eejanaika.'
It is documented that the phenomenon began at the end of September in 1867 (表記の変更) and ended on January 3, 1968 (表記の変更) when the Restoration of Imperial Rule was proclaimed, which accordingly suggests that it was a people's movement occurred immediately before the Meiji Restoration. The origin of the term 'eejanaika' seems to have been taken from the localism that people shouted in Kyoto.

The words were created in each region. For example; 'This year things go better, eejanaika (it's good)' (Awaji Province), 'Japan's better condition, eejanaika, I'm very happy with Honen Dance (dance praying for a year of good harvest)' (Awa Province), 'Luckily good, yoijanaika (it's good), don't care anything, yoijanaika, put a slip of paper on omako (vulgar dialect of pubes), put it again if it comes off, yoijanaika,' (applause for sexual liberation: Awaji Province), 'Choshu (a domain advocating the imperial rule) took the capital, things become cheap, ejanaika (it's good)' (Nishinomiya City), 'Choshu people go up to the capital, ejanaika, Cho (Choshu) and Dai (Daigo area, Fujimi, Kyoto meaning the center of Kyoto), ejanaika' (Bingo). Some of the words touched on the political situation of the time.

Relationship with the phenomenon 'okagemairi'

"Eejanaika" is the term created later, and at the very time, the phenomenon was called 'okage' (expression used to express thanks to something or someone), okagesodo' (okage turmoil), 'okage matsuri' (kage festival), 'okudari' (godsend), 'ofudaori' (talisman falling from heaven), 'oodori' (grand dance), etc. It was called in a various ways by region.

The word 'okage' in this context specifically indicates 'okagemairi' (massive return visit to the Ise- jingu Shrine). Okagemairi is the phenomenon that the number of the common people who got away from their service to pay a visit to Ise-jingu Shrine increased drastically, and it occurred spontaneously and repeated various times such as in 1617, 1648 to 1652, 1705, 1771 and 1830 at about 60-years intervals. The period of each fad began in March (on the lunar calendar) and ended in five months. The record of pilgrimage to Ise-jingu Shrine in Meiwa era says that 3 to 4 million people visited to Ise Province. It happened during the Kyoho era under the rule of the tenth shogun Ieharu TOKUGAWA, and according to the demographic statistics Japanese population was approximately 22 million. It is reported that about 5 million people rushed to Ise in three months during the fad of okagemairi in 1830. To facilitate the participants to pilgrimage to Ise-jinja Shrine, wealthy merchants opened their shops and residences to them, and distributed packed meals and straw sandals.

Widespread stories that talismans would fall from heaven probably derived from the tale of the falling down talismans that triggered the okagemairi pilgrimage. Eventually, among the people who participated in the turmoil of eejanaika, there circulated a rumor that 'the talisman of Ise-jingu Shrine would fall from heaven.'. In Ise-jingu Shrine, the talisman was called 'oharai,' literally means exorcism.

Toyohashi City theory

Toyohashi Municipal Library owns a publication titled "Tomeki" (Mitsuhiro MORITA, 1988), a memorandum about the book "The Record of MORITA Family" (year of publication unknown), and according to this memorandum, in the original book there is a description of 'oharai' (exorcism) in the article of July 14 of the 3rd year of Keio (August 13, 1867) and this 'oharai' means the talisman of Ise-jingu Shrine.

Nagoya City theory

In an animated TV series "Manga Nihonshi" (animated history of Japan) of Nippon Television Network broadcasted in 1983, the turmoil of eejanaika began in Nagoya City. The unabridged Japanese to Japanese Dictionary published by Shogakukan in 1988 also attributes its origin to Nagoya.

Toyokawa City theory

According to "My Pedia" of Heibonsha, its first appearance was the fire prevention talismans for Akiba-jinja Shrine, which spiraled down on a post station on the Tokaido Way, Goyushuku (Goyu, Toyokawa City, Aichi Prefecture) from heaven on September 1, 1867.

Okazaki City theory

It is a theory that the origin was "Okuwa Festival" held on March 20, 1866 (表記の変更) as the 100th anniversary of Okuwa-sha Shrine located in current Iwatsu, Okazaki City.

[Original Japanese]