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Aoi Matsuri festival in kyoto 2021: CANCELED due to COVID-19

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Events of Aoi matsuri festival

Roto no gi (Parade)

The most famous thing in Aoi matusuri festival. About 500 people, in the garments of Heian period, march from Kyoto Imperial Palace to Kamigamo shrine by way of Shimnogamo shrine. It takes nearly 5 hours.

Sya to no gi (Rituals at Shines)

The rituals are held when the parade of Aoi matsuri festival arrives at both Shimogamo and Kamigamo shrine.

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Roto no gi 路頭の儀

Overview

First of all, enjoy the video. Roto no gi parade consists of two units. One is Konoe tsukaidai retsu and the other is Saioh dai retsu.

Konoe tsukaidai retsu is a parade of Konoe tsukai, a.k.a. Chokushi, a messenger of the Emperor. He visits both Shimogamo and Kamigamo shrine to pray peace and prosperity of Japanese people and their country.

On the other hand, Saioh dai retsu is a parade of Saioh dai.

近衛使代列/Konoe tsukai dai retsu

肝煎/Kimoiri

 

乗尻

Kimoiri is the man in white and purple outfits. He leads the parade.

乗尻/Norijiri

葵祭2016

They are the jockeys of “Kamo kurabe”, the horse race ritual held prior to Aoi matsuri in Kamigamo shrine.

検非違使志/Kebi-ishi no sakan

検非違使志

He is a kind of police officer.

検非違使尉/Kebi-ishi no jyo

検非違使尉

He is a cheif police officer.in charge of the security in “Heian-kyo”, the ancient Kyoto city. They attend the parade because the Imperial palace is located there.

山城使/Yamashiro no Etsukai

山城使

He is an officer in charge of the security of the outside of the ancient Kyoto city.
He attends the parade because Kamigamo and Shimogamo shrines are located outside of the city.

御幣櫃/Gohei hitsu

葵祭 御幣櫃

Inside of the box they carry, there are roles of cloth which the emperor sends to Kamigamo and Shimogamo shrines. The cloth is called “Gohei motsu”.

葵祭の御幣物

These roles are actual Goheimotsu. They are sheets of cloth. In ancient time, cloth were precious.

内蔵寮史生/Kuraryo no shiyo

内蔵寮史生

He is an officer in charge of the Goheimotsu.

御馬/Ouma (Horse)

葵祭 御馬

They ride the “Oumas” to let the Deity of Kamigamo and Shimogamo shrines see them galloping.

近衛使代(勅使)の牛車/Gissya for Konoe tsukai dai

近衛使代の牛車葵祭・替牛

A wagon pulled by an ox. This “Gissya” is the hugest one for retired emperors or high ranked officials. It was ornamented with flowers in Aoi matsuri festival.

舞人/Maiudo

舞人

There are 6 “Maiudos” in the parade. They dance “Azuma asobi” in front of the Deity.

陪従/Beijyu

陪従

We have 7 “Beijyus” in the parade. They are musicians to play “Gagaku”, the traditional Japanese music for the Deity.

近衛使代/Konoe-tsukai-dai

葵祭・近衛使代

He is the most important figure in Aoi matsuri festival.

He is a messenger of the emperor to the Deity.

内蔵使/kurazukai

内蔵使

He has a small bag in the breast. It contains a letter from the emperor. Knoe-tsukai-dai reads it out to the Deity.

風流傘/Furyu-gasa

風流傘風流傘

These umbrellas are decolated with flowers to make the parade graceful.

斎王代列/Sai-oh-dai retsu

命婦/Myo-bu

葵祭 命婦

They are high-ranked female officials serve for the imperial court.

斎王代/Saioh-dai

葵祭・斎王代葵祭・斎王代

葵祭・斎王代Saiou-dai

The most famous person in the parade. She is a priestess attends Aoi matsuri on behalf of the emperor.(He is the highest ranked Shinto priest.) The litter she is on is called “O-yoyo”, or “Shihoh goshi”.

時代祭2016 神幸列 鳳輦 

In the the Heian period, the emperor, empress, and Saioh had a privilege to be on litter. (The photo above is a litter for the emperor in Jidai matsuri festival.)

斎王代2018

She dresses herself in “Jyuni-hitoe”, the full dress of lady in Heian period. “Jyuni-hitoe” literary means “A dress consists of twelve layers of robes” but the word “Jyuni (12 in Japanese) actually means “many”. The video above shows you the way to wear it. The dress is so thick and heavy and has so long tail that she cannot walk alone. So these little ladies hold the tail of the dress. This “Jyuni-hitoe” is a de facto name of “Itsutsu ginu karaginumo”.

She wears white robe over “Jyuni-hitoe”. The robe reveals that she is attending ritual because it is worn when priestess is in sacred place. The stick she hold is “Hioh-gi”, the wooden fan.

巫女

Let me show you examples. The priestess dresses herself in the ordinary outfit for priestess.

神式結婚式

On the other hand, the priestesses in the picture wear white robes. They serve for a wedding ritual.

葵祭2016斎王代

She ties up her hair in “Osuberakashi”, a traditional hairstyle of court lady. The golden plate with an antler on her hair is “Kokoro-ba”. It is an ornament priestess wears. The antler stands for a plum tree.

ひげのかずら

The white cords hanging on her hair is “Hikage no ito”. In the days of old, Sai-oh wore plant called “Higeno kazura” instead.

采女/Uneme

葵祭・上賀茂神社

She is a priestess serves for “Saioh-dai”. In ancient times, Uneme helped Saioh in rituals in Kamo shrines.

騎女/Nunanori onna

葵祭2016

汗衫

They also are priestesses serve for “Saioh-dai”.

汗衫

Their robes has long tails. When they are on horses, they were folded.

内侍/Naishi

内侍

They are female officials serve for the Imperial court.

蔵人陪従/Kurodo no beiju

蔵人陪従蔵人陪従

They are musicians serve for Sai-oh.

斎王代の牛車/Gissya for saioh-dai

葵祭・斎王代の牛車

The Gissya is as large as that of Konoe-tsukai-dai but “Sai-oh” would ride on a smaller Gissya called “Itoge-kuruma”.

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