Tokyobling's Blog

Ceremonial Ox Cart – Kyoto Jidai Matsuri

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on November 24, 2012

At the festival of the ages, the Jidai Matsuri in Kyoto my favorite procession by far was the ceremonial ox cart. I have been wanting to see this for years and finally I got the chance. I love how relaxed the old ox handler is, leaning on the ox when the procession is being halted to wait for the procession in front of it to get moving again. The ox was very kind, but it took some pulling to get it going after it found a nice spot in the shade and spent a few minutes resting! I met an old English lady once who remember seeing ox carts in ceremonial processions a long time ago, and she told me a funny story of a summer festival in Tokyo when the ox fainted from a bad heat stroke and had to dragged onto another ox cart and carried away into the shade to recover. Poor ox! At least this festival was not nearly as hot as some of the summer festivals can get. In the Heian period of Japan these ox carts were used to carry noble ladies who always traveled with a big retinue of warriors, ladies in waiting and young nobles that would attend the lady being carried, just as in this reenactment. In Japanese the word for ox cart, is gisha (牛車).

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