It’s just a few more months until the colorful Jidai Matsuri, the festival of the ages, hits Kyoto, and then a little later Tokyo. I took these photos last year, and I especially liked the men in the blue costumes, representing warriors from the Yamanashi Clan of present day Gunma and Tottori prefectures. The tall halberd carried by the man in the last photo is a naginata, one of the traditional weapons of Japan. These days it is a modern sport mostly practiced by women. I have never seen it performed live but there are sometimes very impressive show fights on TV where one woman with a long naginata blade incapacitates two or more sword fighters on her own! And of course, the little kids put up a great show, this parade lasted the better part of a day, winding its way through central Kyoto. The sunlight was harsh that day so I walked in front of them until about midpoint until I found a spot with a proper shadow to even out the light a little.
All of these costumes are historical representation, more or less faithful to how the originals looked back in old days. Isn’t it interesting how even the most average looking old man looks warrior-like in these costumes?
Nougaku, or Noh for short, is one of the original art forms of Japan. Even today, living in Tokyo I get to see a few performances every year. This one was held at Asakusa Shrine just next to the famous Sensoji temple during last weekend’s Sanja festival. I couldn’t help getting a picture of one young member of the audience in his festival finest.
At the Shirasaginomai, White Egret Dance, in Tokyo’s Asakusa district last month I saw these adorable little pre-schoolers taking part in the pre-ceremony parade. The kids were followed by adults in charge of the ceremony and then the dancers. The next full ceremony is sceduled for November, so if you are in town, you’ll know where to go!
More photos from the white egret dancers – the shirasaginomai (白鷺の舞) at Asakusa’s Sensoji last weekend. During the ceremony one of the participants throw confetti in the air. I didn’t manage to catch any this time around, but they are actually small good luck charms that the people watching were really happy to catch as they blew past in the strong wind. The kids were adorable when they fought the impulse to run out and catch them! This is definitively one of my favorite ceremonies of Tokyo!