These are the bearers of the palanquins containing the Holy Spirits of Emperors Kanmu (桓武天皇) and Komei (孝明天皇). This is the last part of the Jidai Matsuri called Shinkō-Retsu (神幸列). Emperor Kanmu moved the capital to Heian-kyō (Kyōto) and Emperor Komei, who founded the base of modern Japan.
Lady Sei Shōnagon (清少納言) and Lady Murasaki Shikibu (紫式部), during the annual Jidai Matsuri, in the Ancient Capital of Japan, 2016. Part of the Heian Period of this matsuri, featuring prominent ladies of this period in Japanese History. Both ladies are famous authors of “The Pillow Book and “Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari)”.
While it sounds a bit odd doing two books at once, you’ll come to understand why after reading ^^
Book’s cover courtesy of Amazon Japan. Kyoto Gion 京都祇園 by Hiroshi Mizobuchi 溝縁ひろし (ISBN 4-8381-0171-6) Date of Publication: 1996 Language: Japanese Format: Softcover Availability: Still in print and easy to find Price: About $10 New (Cover price is ¥1,000) Errors: 0
Book’s cover courtesy of Amazon Japan. Kyoto Ponto-cho 京都 先斗町 by Hiroshi Mizobuchi 溝縁ひろし (ISBN 4-8381-0207-0) Date of Publication: 1997 Language: Japanese Format: Softcover Availability: Still in print and easy to find
Price: About $10 New (Cover price is
Just from looking at the front you can tell that these books are very similar. The outside covers are almost identical with the same font and placement being used for both. The only differences are the specific maiko in the main picture and hana kanzashi on one and hanameishi on the other. Inside, they both follow the same layout.
Each begins with a bit of background on the district and features the only dual English/Japanese parts of the book (minus captions). Where Gion’s book is much more structured Pontocho’s adds in a bit more depth aside from maiko and geiko.
The layout of Gion’s book is as follows with the given motifs on each chapter page:
1) The New Year - New Year’s, January, and February Kanzashi -Shigyōshiki, Hatsuyori, Setsubun, and some pictures
2) Spring - March, April, and May Kanzashi -Miyako Odori specifically, includes images on stage and behind the scenes
3) Summer - June, July, and August Kanzashi -Miyabi Kai, Gion Matsuri, Hassaku, and some nice maiko pictures
4) Autumn - September, October, November Kanzashi -Onshūkai, Jidai Matsuri, Kanikakuni Sai, and more pictures
5) Winter - December Kanzashi -Kaomise Sōken, Kotohajime, Okotosan, Okerabi
6) Miscellaneous (No chapter page) -Misedashi, Sakkō and Erikae, The Kanzashi Calendar and Maiko Hair Styles, The Inoue School of Dance, Map of the Gion Area
Pontocho’s, on the other hand, has many of the same chapters as Gion’s does with some slight differences:
1) The Kamogawa Odori (It’s 2 pages)
2) Night -Pictures of Pontocho (outside) at night along with images of maiko dancing at ozashiki
3) Day -Pictures of Pontocho (outside) during the day and normal citizens with maiko and geiko in the streets going about their daily business
4) Spring -Suimeikai (yes, it used to be in March prior to 2000), Reitaisai Hono Buyō Matsuri (dedication dances at the Heian Shrine in April), Kamogawa Odori
5) Summer -Gion Festival and Hassaku
6) Autumn -Aki no Kamogawa Odori (prior to 2000 Pontocho would hold the Kamogawa Odori twice a year: once in May and once in November. Together with Suimeikai in March they had three odori seasons in a year!)
7) Winter Kaomise Sōken, New Year’s, Shigyōshiki, Setsubun
8) Miscellaneous -Misedashi, Erikae, a map of Pontocho with both the ochaya and the shrines
Both of these books are very short (60 pages) and are meant to be souvenirs that tourists could buy cheaply and learn a bit about the local karyūkai scene in Kyoto. They’re not meant to be in-depth, but rather to give a small taste of Kyoto’s historical culture for a very reasonable price. Further classifying them as souvenirs are their size: they’re 19x16cm (7.5x6.3in) and are quite small
Overall, they’re nice books if you want something small and colorful, but it’s doubtful that you’ll learn anything new. However, the price is good and the quality is fantastic.
Procession of Oda Nobunaga (織田信長) entering Jingu Michi ( in front of the Heian Shrine-平安神宮). This part of the Jidai Matsuri features prominent commanders of Oda Nobunaga. Samurai Warlord Oda Nobunaga entered Kyoto in 1568 with his army.
Things done in the last few days:
- helped a lost Canadian navigate the Japanese train system from Haneda airport
- eaten matcha soft serve on the banks of the Kamo River
- eaten Michelin-starred kaiseki with friends from Europe
- woke up early to get to the Toji Temple flea market and amazingly managed to resist all temptation and buy nothing except taiyaki
- wandered from Kiyomizu-dera through winding streets up to Maruyama-Koen and Yasaka-jinja
- eaten amazing handmade udon overlooking a mountain
- found and managed to get through an izakaya menu
- woke up ridiculously early to get to Sagano and the Arashiyama bamboo forest without crowds
- managed to, without planning, be in Kyoto for the Jidai Matsuri and watch it from Heian Shrine where two locals gave me their program to identify the costumes
- woke up even more ridiculously early to hike Fushimi-Inari first thing in the uncrowded morning
- took a wrong train and in correcting my mistake CAUGHT THE 500 TYPE EVA PROJECT SHINKANSEN COMPLETELY BY CHANCE (bonus: Nagisa Kaworu was on duty doing station announcements)
- eaten melt in your mouth soft Kobe steak in Kobe
- took myself into the local neighbourhoods of Kyoto to find an out of the way onsen and soak in how water with old ladies
- eaten too many matcha parfaits
- been mistaken for being Japanese over half a dozen times
- realised how much Japanese I’ve forgotten, balanced with amazement at how quickly it’s coming back in context