At last weeks budo tournament in Tokyo’s Meijijingu grand shrine I saw this procession of archers making their way from the shrine ceremony to the archery, kyudo, range or dojo. There had been a big tournament and hundreds of archers had been ranked and tested. Unfortunately as much as I wanted I wasn’t able to gain access to the archery range itself. Maybe next year! They are wearing ceremonial clothes and carrying shrine ornaments and holy bows. Of course I couldn’t help myself from taking snapping a photo of a little boy eager to test his running skills next to the procession. Don’t worry, his mother was right behind him!
This year too I was lucky to catch the geisha participation at the annual Hachioji festival in western Tokyo’s Hachioji City. This year they didn’t limit themselves to the parade but also had a wagon of their own, pulled by supporters while the geisha inside performed beautifully with singing, the stringed traditional shamisen, flutes and drums. One day I hope to be able to afford a proper night out with these ladies! The stories they could tell would make this japanophiles heart burst!
Hachioji City is often overlooked by many people living in the center of Tokyo but it is more densely populated than central London and has both a vibrant city center and quite a lot of nature. It might not be worth a visit for the casual Tourist but if you spend any length of time in Tokyo I recommend going there, especially if you have the opportunity to see one of their festivals! Hachioji is easily reached by the central JR Chuo Line from Tokyo or Shinjuku stations.
I still haven’t shared 1% of the photos I took of the twice (or thrice actually) annual Sagimai dance ritual in Asakusa’s Sensoji temple earlier this year. As part of one of their three performances during the day (naturally I saw all three of them) they perform a procession as they retire back to the temple that is their base during the day. In this procession they are guided by local participants that acts other roles of the mythical reenactment. Someday I would love to see them perform or train in their home shrine, the famous Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto, one of my favorite shrines in the world.
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!