- What is Mikage matsuri festival? 御蔭祭？
- Itinerary for Mikage matsuri festival 作戦
- Kanpai no gi at Shimogamo shrine 勧盃の儀
- Miare shinji, or Mikage yama no gi 御蔭山の儀 御生神事
- Roji sai at Kamo hani shrine 路次祭 賀茂波爾（赤の宮）神社
- Kirishiba shinji at Kamigamo shrine 切芝神事 下鴨神社
What is Mikage matsuri festival? 御蔭祭？
The oldest parade for Shinto Deity
Mikage matsuri festival means important rituals held prior to Aoi matsuri festival.
The most important ritual is Miare shinji held on the 12th May at Mikage shrine. On the very day, the Deity of Shimogamo shrine is born there. Priests put him on a Shinme horse’s (神馬。A horse dedicated to a Snito Deity.) back and parade to Shimogamo shrine. The parade is called Shikou-retsu (神幸列). Shinko-retsu is a column to bring Shito Deity to some place.
We can find Shinko-retsu in many matsuri festivals Shinto shrines hold. For example, priests put the Deity of Heian Jingu shrine into a litter and bring him to Kyoto Imperial palace in the Shinko-retsu of Jidai matsuri festival.
Among many Shinko-retsu, that of Mikage matsuri festival is the oldest one. Its history dates back to around 581 A.C., in the rein of the emperor Suizei, the 2nd emperor of Japan (The emperor Akihito is 125th emperor and his descendant).
The parade departs Mikage shrine and heads for Shimogamo shrine by way of Kamohani shrine.
From top to bottom, the torii gates in the map indicate Mikage shrine, Kamohani shrine and Shimogamo shrine.
Why is new Deity born every single year?
Sometimes, Shinto Deity has two aspects like yin and yang: Tender and rough.
The tender aspects is called “Nigi mitama (和魂)”. It gives us anything good like harvest. On the other hand, the evil aspects called “Aramitama (荒魂)” gives us anything bad like disasters. We put these Nigi mitama and Aramitama together and have a supreme state of Deity to prepare for important ritual like Aoi matsuri.
Let me show you an example. The boy on his steed is “Kuze-kamagata chigo (久世駒形稚児)” in Gion matsuri festival. The Aramitama of Susanoo no mikoto, the Deity of Yasaka shrine is in the horse neck Kuze-komagata chigo holds in the breast. In the mail hall, the Nigi mitama and Ara mitama of Susanoo no mikoto come together.
In Aoi matsuri, aramitama of the Deity of shimogamo shrine is born at Mikage shrine and Nigimitama waits for it at Shimogamo shrine.
Itinerary for Mikage matsuri festival 作戦
The column of Mikage matsuri departs Shimogamo shrine for Mikage shrine and comes back to Shimogamo shrine by way of Kamo hani shrine. I’ll show you an itinerary to attend the rituals in these 3 places. You can see all of them.
Kanpai no gi at Shimogamo shrine 勧盃の儀
9:00 a.m. at Shimogamo shrine
At a square field near Mitarashi gawa stream in Shimogamo shrine, priests hold Jyuge shinji ritual. It is a ritual of purification. I suspect priest purify themselves in it (There is scarce information about it.).
After Jyuge shinji, in Kanpai nogi ritual, the priests purify participates of a column with “Ohnusa” the priest in red holds in his hands. Fortunately, those who observe the parade can also be purified!
The column departs Shimogamo shrine to Mikage shrine.
Waving good-bye to the column, we head for Demachi Yamani station to catch a train. It departs the staiton at 10:07 a.m..
10:07 a.m. Demachi Yanagi sta.
Take the Eizan line train for Yase hieizan guchi. It departs at 10:07 a.m.. Don’t miss it, or you are late for Miare shinji ritual at Mikage shrine.
REPEAT DO NOT MISS THE TRAIN OF 10:07
Miare shinji, or Mikage yama no gi 御蔭山の儀 御生神事
10:21 a.m. at Yase hieizan guchi sta., the last stop
It takes around 20 minutes from Yase hieizan guchi station to Mikage shrine on foot. We can take taxi because the shrine is located in a mountain.
At red annotation in the map, there is a sign shown above.
At blue annotation, there is a sign shown above.
11:00 a.m. Mikage yamanogi 御蔭山の儀
In side of Mikage shrine, I suppose priests give birth to Aramitama . I say “suppose” because we cannot see what is going on inside of the curtain.
After the ritual is over, we can pass through the curtain and enter the inside of the shrine to pray. We can enjoy Sake called “Omiki”. Omiki is a Sake prepare for Shito Deity. We put it on an alter. This Omiki is not a common Sake. It is distilled in a traditional way and tastes very fruity.
12:00 a.m. Miare shinji 御生神事
A priest enter the shrine to put Aramitama into a Yorishiro called “Miare gi (御生木)” in the shrine.
Yorishiro is an object to which Deity descend. For example, the horse neck Kuze komagata chigo is a Yorishiro.
The Gagaku music is played for celebrating the birth of the Deity.
I suppose Miare gi is in the box the priest holds. (At least Aramitama is inside of the box.)
The box is in an object called “Goshinpitsu” on the horse’s back.
The column heads for Kamo hani shrine.
12:29 a.m. Yase hieizan guchi sta.
Take the train departs at 12:29 for Demachi yanagi sta. Don’t miss it, or you are late for Roji sai at Kamo hani shrine.
REPEAT DO NOT MISS THE TRAIN OF 12:29
Roji sai at Kamo hani shrine 路次祭 賀茂波爾（赤の宮）神社
12:36 at Ichijyoji sta.
At the exit of the station, turn right and head for Kamo hini shrine. It takes around 10 minutes on foot.
1:00 p.m. Roji sai 路次祭
At Kamo hani shrine, priests hold a ritual. After the ritual, a traditional dance called “Genjo raku (環城楽)” is dedicated.
The column departs Kamo hani shrine around 2:00 p.m.. We come back to Ichijoji station.
2:21 p.m. Ichijoji sta.
Take the train at the same platform you got off a train about 2 hours ago.
2:27 p.m. Demachi yanagi sta.
The following ritual is held at 4:00 p.m.. Have late lunch near Demachi yanagi station.
Kirishiba shinji at Kamigamo shrine 切芝神事 下鴨神社
4:00 p.m. at Kirishiba
The column is to arrive at 4:00 p.m..
Aramitama stays in “Goshinpitsu” on the horse’s back.
The Shinme horse goes inside of a hut called “Shinme aku” and hides behind the curtain.
4:45 Kirishiba shinji 切芝神事
The priest takes bow to the horse because the Deity is on its back.
In front of the Shinme horse, dancers dedicate “Azuma asobi dance” for their pleasure to welcome Aramitama. Aramitama enjoys it through the eyes of Shinme horse.
After Azuma asobi, a composition called 三代詠 ( I suppose it is prounced “Santai ei”.) to praise Aramitama.
The column heads for the main hall of Shimigmo shrine.
5:00 p.m. Hongu no gi 本宮の儀
The Shinme horse is entering the main hall of Shimogamo shrine. We are not allowed to attend the ritual held there.
The Shinme horse come outside of the mail hall. Inside of it, priests put Aramitama and Nigimitama of the Deity together to prepare for Aoi matsuri festival.