Elegant Procession in “Aoi Matsuri”, one of Kyoto’s 3 big festival

(This article was originally posted in Japanese at 10:30 May 15, 2009.)

Aoi Matsuri(lit. Festival of Malvaceae flower) is one of the 3 main festivals of Kyoto. The festival began in 7th century to pray for the fertility of the nation.

The main part of this ancient festival is acting emperor's procession to the two shrines, Kamigamo and Shimogamo, accompanying over 500 squires. Participants of the procession are all dressed in a old Heian period style, which is very quaint and elegant.

Read on for the fascinating pictures of the festival.

The procession starts in The Kyoto Imperial Palace

Many cameramans and press peoples placing their equipments.

Current ticket for the pay seat. You should buy it before 10 o'clock to get one.

2000 yen (about 20 USD) for a seat.

The pay seats are placed along the procession course.

Pay seats map

Sakaemachi Gomon gate where precession goes out of the palace.

Information board of Sakaemachi Gomon

Visitors from abroad

The course is roped-off but you can cross it before the procession begins.

About 9 o'clock. So many peoples gathering

Helicopters Above

10 past 10. Mounted policemen of Kyoto prefectural police

Drawing visitors' attention very much

The course of the procession.

And the procession begins

They needed to calm down.

Very steady and elegant move

Main part of the procession. The riders leading the line are "Norijiri", the riders of the dedicated horse race.

These riders in orange are Norijiri, too. They are competitors so they change the color of their cloths to distinguish each other.

2009/05/15 11:06

Riderless horse.

"Suou" the line leader. Suou is actually the name of his indigo cloth with embroidered dragon.

The blue one on the horse is "Kebii-shi no Sakan" the law enforcement. The one leading the horse is called "Toneri", a servant

The men in pink or green seem to be "Eji", the royal guardian soldier and "Kachou", a low-rank Kebiishi.

The orange one is "Kebiishi no Jyou", a chief of law enforcements

The team of "Yamashiro no Tsukai"

2009/05/15 11:14

The man in the red cloth is "Yamashiro no tsukai", the vice mayor of Yamashiro. Outside of The Imperial Palace is under the juridection of Yamashiro mayor so he joined the line as a security.

"Gohei-Bitsu", the box of offering.

"Kuraryou no Shishou" a bureaucrat of "Kuraryou", the dedication office.

Unmanned horses with decoration on its head are "Soume", the horse used in the dedicated race.

2009/05/15 11:20

"Meryou-tsukai", the bureaucrat of the horse handler

A ox carriage

It's the acting Emperor's car, decorated with wisterias, peonys and plums.

The substitution ox.

"Maibito", military serviceman

2009/05/15 11:22

2009/05/15 11:28
"Konoe Dukai", the acting emperor's substitution.

"Hikiuma", the substituion horse to ride when coming back

2009/05/15 11:48
"Furyu-Gasa", a decorated umbrella with artificial flower

"Beijyu", bureaucrat who plays the music

"Kura Tsukai", a messenger

2009/05/15 12:15

Another Furyugasa

And here comes the "Saiou dai retsu" the sherman's line.

"Myobu", middle-class chamberlain

Females without an umblella is "Nyo-ju", house maids


"Saiou Dai" the sherman carried with palanquin holding cypress fan in her hand. Every year Saiou Dai is chosen from Kyoto citizen and Makiko Sen, daughter of Soushitu Sen the head master of Urasenke is chosen this year.

Following is "Munanori Onna", the sherman's riding servant.

Kuroudo Dokoro Beijyu, the bureaucrat who keeps sherman's goods.

Sherman's cow carriage

Saiou Dai Retsu has gone.

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in Note, Posted by darkhorse_log