橋弁慶山 HASHIBENKEI YAMA
This float portrays the famous tale of Benkei at the bridge (“hashi” in Japanese). Benkei, a powerful, undefeated monk-warrior in full armour, chellenged the child prince Ushiwakamaru, who arrived at Kyoto’s Gojo Bridge disguised as a girl. The previously un- defeated Benkei took a severe beating from the young Ushiwakamaru, and from then on become his devoted ally.
北観音山 KITAKANNON YAMA
Because this float is dedicated to Yoryu Kannon (a merciful goddess) and Idaten (a guardian deity), their figures are on the float. The originals were carved by a famous Buddhist priest, but unfortunately these were destroyed in one of the many fires which have plagued Kyoto throughout its history. The metallic decorations located around the transoms of the float are especially beautiful, and make this float much more gorgeous and magnificent.
鯉山 KOI YAMA
This float’s them is from a Chinese legend stating that a carp (“koi” in Japanese) thet could swim up a waterfall could become a dragon. The depiction of a carp ascending the waterfall is quite vivid and realistic. The 16th century Brussels tapestries show Trojan War stories from Greek literature.
役行者山 EN NO GYŌ JA YAMA
This is the only float bearing three different figures . En no Gyoja, who sits in the middle, is a very high ranking ascetic. Hitokoto nushi, who stands on the left, is a man who built a long stone bridge by order of En no Gyoja. The Goddess Katsuragi stands on the right.
This scene depicts a Japanese fable. En no Gyoja gained his power through his severe ascetic practices, and he could control both gods and human beings.
八幡山 HACHIMAN YAMA
The object of worship of the small Shinto shrine which located on this float is Hachiman, one of the most famous Japanese gods.
The miniature shrine on the float is decorated with gold foil, and it is said to have been made in the Tenmei period, between 1781 and 1788.
南観音山 MINAMIKANNON YAMA
It is dedicated to Yoryu Kannon (a merciful goddess) who is depicted with aorher saint. Together they are said to protect people from all types of illness, as does the float’s large willow branch. The decorated balls on each corner represent incense, the symbol of the goddess of medicine.
鈴鹿山 SUZUKA YAMA
This float is dedicated to the goddess Suzuka, who encountered and defeated a demon which threatened the peaceful life of a small village by attacking its inhabitants and travelers every night. The Goddess Suzuka has a halberd in her left hand. She is dressed in female attire and capped by a gold hat, and is, therefore, said to protect travelers from robberies or harm.
浄妙山 JŌMYŌ YAMA
The scene on this float depicts the story of a famous battle that occurred in the 12th century, between the Heike and Genji clans, at the Uji River near Kyoto. Ichirai, a monk warrior, jumped over his fellow monk warrior Jomyo to rush headfirst into the enemy ranks. The figure of Ichirai jumping in the air is supported by a wooden wedge.
黒主山 KURONUSHI YAMA
This float’s theme is based on “Shiga”, a famous Noh play. The figure on this float is Otomo no Kuronushi, a great 10th century Japanese poet, shown here admiring beautiful cherry blossoms. The float’s metal railing decorations represent the four seasons. According to Japanese legend, putting cherry blossoms from this float on your front door protects you from evil spirits.
大船鉾 ŌFUNE HOKO
Ofune-hoko has been reconstructed last year after 150 years interval. This float has been burnt down at the civil war in the end of Edo period, leaving the decorations and holy masks which were handed down in the city quarter. It is now possible to enjoy the original style this year, lining up at the last of the Latter Parade.
The Gion matsri festival was very exciting!!
Click here for the type of 山鉾 (yamahoko) [前祭 saki-matsuri]
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