HIMEJI, Japan -- This coastal city in southwestern Japan, famous for its centuries-old castle, lies just to the west of the big commercial hubs of Kobe and Osaka. Himeji is home to some of Japan's most interesting institutions, such as the Japan Toy Museum and the Himeji City Museum of Literature. Here, too, the Mitsuyama Taisai takes place every 20 years at the Itatehyozu Shrine; this colorful festival, last held in 2013, summons the Shinto religion's entire pantheon of deities in a large-scale purification ritual for the entire nation.
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