Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Aoi Matsuri


The Aoi Matsuri is annual festival that spans two weeks with numerous events.
The final event of Aoi Matsuri is a parade. This parade starts at the imperial palace (near Demachiyanagi station) then moves to Shimogamo where traditional performances are held in the shrine while the parade party has a lunch break. After two hours at Shimogamo the parade follows the roads along the Kamo river north to Kamigamo shrine.

This is a photo journal from Tuesday 5/15/2018.

The parade group leaving Shimogamo shrine.

Getting onto the horse with portable steps and many attendants.

Gloves and a riding crop.

Ready for the parade (there is no horseback archery on this day).

Floral arrangements on top of the parasols.

A koto (a type of Japanese harp) being carried away from the shrine.
Performances of traditional arts take place within Shimogamo shrine on the maido (shrine stage).

Bugaku performers exit the shrine with their long garments (shitagasane?) trailing behind them.

Several tiger pelts accompany the procession.
This seems like an aristocratic status symbol of the Heian but may be viewed as politically incorrect given the decline of tiger populations and animal activism.

Note the three different styles of hats seen here:
The man with the arrows has a bukan sokutai (military court costume) with a kanmuri hat (note the oikake blinders on the sides).
The passing man has a longer tail (ei) hanging off the back of the kanmuri (with the warrior's ei is curled up).
The man crouching on the ground has an eboshi (or kazaori eboshi / "wind swept eboshi")

The gate to Shimogamo shrine.
Note the imperial kiku-mon crests.

Floral umbrellas. In the background you can see some of the kazari-daru (decorative sake barrels).

Kyogen, a type of comical Noh performance.
This play is called "Kaki Yamabushi" sometimes called "The Persimmon Thief" in English.
Here a hungry monk is climbing a persimmon tree to steal the fruit. 
The novice yamabushi is discovered by the tree owner while he is high in tree (hence standing on this stool).

Discovered, the thief pretends to be bird in the tree.

Having failed at his attempt to fly out of the tree like an eagle, the injured thief demands to be cared for by the tree owner.

Another kyogen performance. This performer also seems to be depicting a yamabushi, judging by the fuzzy ball ornaments on the costume. ???

A noble lady being carried on a cart.

The parade passes along the Kamo river between Shimogamo and Kamigamo shrines.
Here a fast shitter speed (1/200 sec) shows the water that is frothy with many droplets.

A longer exposure (1/20 second) to give the water a smoother and calmer appearance. It is hard to keep longer exposures of  bright subject like this viewable, perhaps next time I will stack two polarization filters to block the majority of light and allow for even longer exposures.

A tourist crossing the river. The river banks here near the Kyoto Botanical Garden are a very nice park.

The secondary gate of Kamigamo shrine where the parade party stops for the final round of ceremonies.
The color is nice in this shot with a circular polarization filter helping to balance glare.

A wider shot that adds some border space to the parade parasols and spear; the color is not as vivid here and the scene seems less expansive as it did when the some of the subject was partially cut off.

A group of men lined up so their swords seem to be jumbled together in the same sight line.

Leaving Kamigamo shrine for the final horse ceremony.

Participant bow to the honored guest before the horse ceremony.

Preparing to watch the horses pass.

About 5 (?) horses race past the spectators one-by-one.

Note the hollylock (aoi) branches on their hats.

The ema plates at the shrine reflect the various horse traditions of Kamigamo shrine.
Note the komainu plate which has the emblem of the hollylock emblem Kamo shrines.

"Aoi Festival; Kami Gamo Shrine"
The ema plate depicts the iconic ox cart of the Aoi Festival.

Note the golden hollylock emblem on the banner.

A horse made of forutne papers (omikuji). These can be seen at the shrine every year as their is strong tie to horses.

A Dog figure (with long ears) as 2018 was the year of the dog.