Tag Archives: Kyoto

today’s holiday: Aoi Matsuri


Aoi Matsuri

One of the three major festivals of Kyoto, Japan, the Aoi Matsuri, or Hollyhock Festival, is believed to date from the sixth century. The festival’s name derives from the hollyhock leaves adorning the headdresses of the participants; legend says hollyhocks help prevent storms and earthquakes. Today, the festival, which was revived in 1884, consists of a re-creation of the original imperial procession. Some 500 people in ancient costume parade with horses and large lacquered oxcarts carrying the “imperial messengers” from the Kyoto Imperial Palace to the shrines. More… Discuss

today’s holiday: Hi Matsuri


Hi Matsuri

On the evening of October 22, people light bonfires along the narrow street leading to the Kuramadera Shrine in Kurama, a village in the mountains north of Kyoto, Japan. Fire is a purifying element according to Shinto teachings, and the village is believed to be protected from accidents on this night. Soon after dusk, torches are lit. Even babies are allowed to carry tiny torches made of twigs, while young men carry torches so large it sometimes takes several men to keep them upright. Everyone chants “Sai-rei! Sai-ryo!” (“Festival, good festival!”) as they walk through the streets. More… Discuss

Kabuki


Kabuki

Kabuki, a popular form of Japanese drama, is known for its spectacular staging, elaborate costumes, and striking makeup in place of masks. It originated in 1603, when a woman named Izumo no Okuni began performing a new style of dance that became instantly popular. Rival troupes quickly formed, and kabuki evolved into an ensemble dance performed by women—a form much different from its modern incarnation in which men play all the roles. Why were women banned from the kabuki stage in 1629? More… Discuss

today’s holiday: Hakata Gion Yamagasa


Hakata Gion Yamagasa

The Gion Matsuri at Kyoto is the model for several other Gion festivals in Japan, and the largest of these is the Gion Yamagasa Festival at Fukuoka. The elaborate floats for which the festival is famous are called yamagasa, and beautiful new dolls are made for them each year. The festival begins on July 1, when participants purify themselves by collecting sand from the seashore. The highlight of the festival occurs on the morning of July 15, when the Oiyama race is held. This is a five-kilometer race in which teams of 28 men run while carrying yamagasa, weighing about a ton. More… Discuss

TODAY’S HOLIDAY: HANA MATSURI


Hana Matsuri

Hana Matsuri is a celebration of the Buddha‘s birthday, observed in Buddhist temples throughout Japan, where it is known as Kambutsue. The highlight of the celebration is a ritual known as kambutsue (“ceremony of ‘baptizing’ the Buddha”), in which a tiny bronze statue of the Buddha, standing in an open lotus flower, is anointed with sweet tea. People use a small bamboo ladle to pour the tea, made of hydrangea leaves, over the head of the statue. The custom is supposed to date from the seventh century, when perfume was used, as well as tea. More… Discuss

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