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!
A couple of weeks ago I saw these two wonderfully dressed up girls taking part in the annual oiran parade in Tokyo’s Asakusa district. You might remember my post about the much bigger oiran parade in Kitashinagawa last year, where I wrote more about the history of the oiran women of old Edo. These girls took on the part of maids to the older oiran and the parade is meant to reenact the oiran ritual of going out to visit a customer at a restaurant. Real oiran (which were the predecessor of the much more famous geisha) haven’t been seen on the streets of Edo (or Tokyo) since the 18th century and even then they were considered old fashioned.
These two maids did great in the cold weather and intense sun of this unusually sunny day. It is very difficult to take good photos when there is too much or too little light though! I hope you don’t mind.
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!
Twice a year at Asakusa’s famous Sensoji temple an old ceremony of dancers dressed as white egrets or herons take place, once in April and once in November. The ceremony is called Shirasaginomai (白鷺の舞) and was revived in 1968 using an old scroll as a basis that had been found in the temple, depicting a ceremonial dance in 1652. The dancers are instructed by the famous Yasaka shrine in Kyoto, and is joined by children from the temple kindergarten. There are three performances, one in the morning and two in the afternoons, and all of them start with a parade overseen by local monks and ends in the same way, followed by a large dashi (ceremonial wagon) where flute players and drummers accompany the dancers in the ceremony and parades. These photos are from the last performance of the day, the wind was strong and some of the dancers really looked like they were going to take off from the ground when their spread wings were picked up by the wind! More photos to come!