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.
Some more costumes from the photogenic Kyoto Jidai Matsuri, the festival of the ages! One of my favorites are the gorgeous costumes worn by the women with the pointy white headwear. I think they might be saleswomen but I am not sure what era they recreate. The warriors don’t look half bad either but I always wonder how effective their bows could have been in combat?
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?
In the last days of the war there were many air raids over Tokyo, and in the biggest of them all most, if not all, of the Asakusa district in modern day Taito Ward was destroyed in the massive fires. In the years it took to rebuild the main temple, the Sensoji, a few new dances and festivals were put on as a treat for the survivors and those helping out in rebuilding the Asakusa. One of these were the Golden Dragon Dance (金龍の舞), where a troupe of musicians would perform on a cart while eight men whirled around an 18m long 88kg heavy dragon puppet. These days the dance lives on and is put on at the temple three times a year. At the Tokyo Jidai Matsuri, or festival of the ages, I saw it swirling around and entertaining the crowds and particularly the kids and the young ladies. I am sure plenty of photographers were very please as well as the heavy dragon head came rushing towards them! Asakusa, with the new lighting design at the Sensoji temple is one of the absolutely most popular tourist spots in the world!