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Aoi Matsuri Festival Events / Matsuri (Festival) in Kyoto

Introduce "Festival Events of Aoi Matsuri". 
There are two parts to Aoi Matsuri: the procession and the shrine rites (Frang, 2002). The procession is the lead by the Imperial Messenger. Following the imperial messenger are: two oxcarts, four cows, thirty-six horses, and six hundred people (Frang, 2002).
http://www.rohm.com/rohm-saijiki/shimogamo/5_event/images/photo_aoi_d-b.jpg
(Aoi Matsuri (葵祭) / Image)

All of which are dressed in traditional Heian period costumes decorated with aoi leaves. The procession starts at 10:30 of May 15 and leaves the Kyoto Imperial Palace and slowly works its way towards the Shimogamo shrine and finally the Kamigamo shrine.

When they finally arrive at both shrines, the Saio-Dai and Imperial Messenger would perform their rituals. The Saio-Dai would simply pay her respects to the deities and the Imperial Messenger would intone the imperial rescript praising the deities and requesting their continued favor.

http://blog.so-net.ne.jp/_images/blog/_41d/staff_for_one/7496331.jpg
(The Saio-dai (斎王代) / Image)

There are two main figures of Aoi Matsuri: the Saio-dai and the Imperial Messenger (Aoi, 2006). The Saio-Dai is a woman who is chosen from the sisters and daughters of the emperor to dedicate herself to the Shimogamo shrine. The role of Saio-Dai was to maintain ritual purity and to represent the Emperor at the festival. Now, the role of the Saio-Dai is played by an unmarried woman in Kyoto (Aoi, 2009).

She would be dressed in the traditional style of the Heian court. Traditional Heian court dress for women would be wearing several layers of exquisitely colored silk robes (Layered, 1995). The Saio-Dai wears twelve layers of the traditional style robes (Shimogamo, 2009). To maintain ritual purity, the Saio-Dai goes through several ceremonies of purification before the procession of the festival. The Imperial Messenger leads the festival procession on horseback (Aoi, 2009). During the Heian period he would be a Fith-Rank courtier holding the office of middle or lesser captain and was usually a man destined for high office (Shively, 1999). His role was to read the imperial rescript of the shrines and present the emperor’s offerings (Shively, 1999). During the Heian period, the Saio-Dai and the Imperial messenger would be accompanied by ten dancers and twelve musicians.

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/230/505757301_50b0feaedf.jpg
(Yabusame(流鏑馬) / Image)

Also featured at the Kamo no matsuri are horse races (kurabe-uma), and demonstrations of mounted archery (yabusame).

By T.S. on May 2, 2010
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