Thursday, May 17, 2012

Aoi Festival

This is the report of Aoi Festival held yesterday on May 16th in Kyoto. Basically it is annually held on May 15th, but due to the heavy rain, it was postponed to the following day.
Aoi Festival, or Hollyhock Festival is the annual festival of Shimogamo Shrine and Kamigamo Shrine. Along with the Gion Festival and the Jidai Matsuri (Festival of Ages), it is one of the three big festivals in Kyoto. Featured is a gorgeous parade in the style of the ancient Heian Court, everything in the parade is adorned with the hollyhock leaf crest, also called "aoi" _ thus the name of the festival. The parade leaves the Kyoto Imperial Palace at 10:30 in the morning. The 700-meter-long parade passes Shimogamo Shrine and heads for Kamigamo Shrine. This festival offers the opportunity to see the ancient time in Japan, so it makes a great tourist attraction.

   Nowadays, the massive procession illustrates the high regard. There are men on horseback, giant bouquets of flowers, ornately decorated ox drawn carts, and a large retinue of women in kimono accompanying the year's Saio.

this year's heroine, Saio
Traditionally, the Saio was a young female member of the imperial family who served as the high priestess of the Kamo Shrines. During festivals, the Saio performed rituals at the shrines. In the modern era, a different unmarried woman from Kyoto is selected each year to serve as Saio. She must go through purification ceremonies before the festival, and is taken through the procession on a palanquin.

I had a great time to watch the ancient time. I want to add one more thing. This parade is held without music, just quietly and solemnly.


  1. How lovely! We have hollyhocks here, too, but no ceremonies for them or using them. When we were kids, we used to make dolls out of their big blooms.

  2. You have such a rich culture - I love reading all about Japan on your blog.

  3. everything ... it is wonderful to see and I can well imagine that such a view is a very emotional time in the past time. I can not blame purely in the quiet, silent procession and enjoy it with you, Annie ...

    Thank you again for these pictures, they bring me Japan - your home - closer ...

    Best regards Geli

  4. This is wonderful! I enjoy your posts, and would love to come to Japan one day! I think it is nice that it is a silent procession...

  5. What a glorious series of captures of this colorful cavalcade, Annie!