Monday, November 13, 2017

Nagaokakyo Gracia Festival


In the 1500s Oda Nobunaga was a powerful daimyo who led Japan though a warring period into a process of unification. He was very keen on adopting new technologies, materials and ideas from overseas. That includes Portuguese traders and Jesuit missionaries.
Oda Nobunaga was betrayed by the forces of a disgruntled subordinate, Akechi Mitsuhide, in Kyoto.
The coup led to renewed fighting between powerful factions and the tides of war turned against the Akechi. Caught in the turmoil was the daughter of Akechi Mitsuhide, Tama. Tama was married to Hosokawa Tadaoki at 16 and had several children before she was forced into a tempestuous life on the run during which she made daring escapes and converted to Christianity. She was hidden in Osaka for a time until her connection to the Toyotomi clan during the wars led her to being pressured into a suicide, which she resisted as a Christian but was assisted by an execution by a loyal servant, Ogasawara.
Today, "Garasha" (Gracia) is seen as a romantic figure. She has been the subject of pop-culture imagination. The Garasha Festival, in mid-November is an event held in Nagaoka-Kyo (just south of Kyoto).
The festival features a parade is centered around the Shoryuji Castle ruins.
The parade features people wearing costumes that represent various historical periods as well as modern community groups.

Garasha Matsuri parade.
Ladies are pushed along on carts.
Dressed as a Heian era noble-man with a smart phone.
I like seeing these types of anachronisms.
Styled hair with numerous implements.
A collection of local mascots came for the festival from the Kyoto area.
Akechi Kamemaru, Hiroko-san, Mitsuhide-kun, Chi-tan and Nokobo.
Heian period costumes.
Photographers prompted the boy to take a two sword pose.
Costumed as a nun and the atttendant of Gracia Hosokawa.
Dressed as Gracia Hosokawa and Tadaoki Hosokawa doing a wedding toast.
A decorative column at the Shoryuji Castle Ruins Park.
A bridge with "giboshi" post caps. Shoryuji meeting hall in the background.
Akechi kun is a cute representation of the warlord Mitsuhide Akechi.
Stalks of bamboo which have designs that were created by drilling many holes through the bamboo.then placing lights inside.
A shishimai. Usually the shishimai bearers carry the masks with their hands and only hide under a sheet as a costume.
With this version the shishimai wears the mask on his head an gives out tissues to the crowd.
As with normal shishimai, it is good luck if they bite your head, but this version was much less agile.
A tea house with girls in maiko (apprentice geisha) outfits.
Here they are looking down the narrow street at the oncoming parade.
The aged wood makes a nice backdrop.
Omikoshi, portable shrine. Note the common phoenix emblem on the roof.
I like the happy face that the man in the front has.
The mikoshi-bearers look like they are working hard.
The mikoshi is lifted up high at important points and sponsors locations during the parade.
There are metal rings that make ringing sounds as the mikoshi shakes.
A mikoshi-bearer posing with the maiko.
A nice smiling pose here.
A photo conveying poise and elegance with a smile.
A full body photo.
The walls and banners along the higher side of the castle ruins.
Laughing kids with the costumed parader.
Kids playing around doing a shiradori game with the fake sword. 
Shinken shiradori, blocking a sword by clapping it between your hands.
A Japanese pop-culture trope.
Two-sword style chanbara.
A hostage poses for 3DS pictures.
Nice colors with the fall foliage.
Archers with quivers that are of samurai.
One of the younger samurai cosplayers posing for photos.
Tea time.
Teamwork to help tying on the gauntlets.
The sun reflecting off the helmets add an interesting flare to the photo.
This unusual photographer had scores of hand made cat figures hanging from his bag and hat.
Most of these ornate hair styles come as pre-arranged wigs.
Samurai wearing a horo (母衣 - "mother cloak") was worn as far back as the 1300s to protect from arrows being shot in the wearers back. You sometimes see these horo in paintings of battles from the samurai era.
The reflected light from the light clothing around this girl gives her face a nice illumination.
This girls face is in the shade of her hat.
The roof tiles behind her and the lack of any intruding power lines is a nice backdrop.
Girls dressed in the costumes of travelers.
The paraders carry banners that identify their group.
Samurai cosplayers from different parts of Japan.
You can recognize the man playing Oda Nobunaga from the Matsusaka parade earlier this month.
A close-up detailing the helmet while obscuring the eyes of the wearing giving a nice air of anonymity.
Dressed as warriors from a much earlier time in Japanese history; the kofun period.
The star couple, the actors playing the Hosokawa.
The Gracia Festival mascot.
Unusually human-like proportions for a mascot.
Wide wicker hats.
Mitsuhide-kun. A castle mascot from Kameoka.
Maiko enjoying the show as a yosakoi group dances on stage.
Chi-tan, the mascot for Tamba city, represents strata of earth with fossils inside.
Akechi Kamemaru is said to be a turtle that gained a samurai position by saving the daughter of Mitsuhide Akechi who fell into the castle moat at Kameoka Castle.
Hiroko and Mitsuhide, the ruling couple of Kameoka Castle.
The parade through Hiraokakyo passing near the JR station.
A lady of the coup being pulled along by servants.
A stray samurai standing by between festival events.
Nokobo is a combination of a bamboo shoot (takeNOKO) and a monk (BOsan).
Re-sheating a sword.
Worn in the "tachi" style which is edg-down with straps securing it to the waist.
Re-sheathing a sword.
Awaji-odori dancers moving along with the parade.