Sunday, May 23, 2010

394th Anniversary of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA's Death – part two

This entry is our first submission to the monthly Japan Blog Matsuri. This month's topic is "how to". And what we'll try to do is to explain how to distinguish who's who during the Nikko Toshogu Grand Spring Festival procession.


You've seen the procession, you've stood there and watched the people go by. And you've listened to the garbled explanations provided in funny English over the loudspeakers. And while it all looked very pretty (and somewhat anti-climactic even), you still are not sure what it was all about.



This handy, step-by-step guide will show you how the procession looked like back in the 19th century and compare it with the procession we have today.




But, first things first:


We're friends with a very supportive Nikko local, who's the owner of a small and but well-known okonomi restaurant - Hinokuruma (火の車).


Shameless plug for Hinokuruma - go and eat there. The owner will treat you like one of her favorite long-lost children. Some English spoken, vegetarian choices available. And it's cheap.


Here's a map:


Hinokuruma_map


Anyway, thanks to her, we were lucky to get two precious seats at the very front row for the parade - Shinyotogyosai (神輿渡御祭) in the morning. Shinyotogyosai is the event's proper name, though it is also known as Hyakumonozoroe Sennin gyouretsu (百物揃千人行列).

When you buy a ticket (1200 yen), a booklet, an ema (絵馬) and a tourist information brochure come with it. One of the booklets explains the parade.



Old_drawing


The print (版画) was made in 19th century (early Meiji Period), and it describes the parade for Ieyasu’s (TOKUGAWA of course, by now we're on first name basis) death anniversary.


If you start looking at all the details, you can see it differs from his 394th parade in 2010. But let's take a look at the similarities.




What you can see at very head of the procession is a big Sakaki tree used to purify the route.



1_sakaki tree

And now:


Sakaki_tree_x800





Our favorite tour guide - Sarutahiko (aka Tengu) and a lion (which looks more like a dragon) are there.


2_sarutahiko

And now:


Sarutahiko_tengu_x800





A horse and guys with red "lightsabers":


3_horse_redlightsaber

And now:


Horse_and_red_sword_walkers_x800






Naginata team:


4_naginata

And now:


Naginata_x600


Samurai warriors:


5_warriors

And now:


Warriors1_x800



Decorated hats:

6_decoratedhat

And now:


Chinese_zodiac_hats_x800

Hats with Chinese zodiac animals

Masked team:

7_maskteam

And now:


Masked_team_x800



Dignitaries on horseback:

8_horsebackriging

And now:


On_horseback_x800


Banners:

9_pillar


And now:


Banners_x800



Children dressed like monkeys collecting donated coins:

10_monkeys

And guess what? Back in the olden days, they had actual monkeys doing it, too.

And now:

Monkeys_x600

Sacred mirror:

11_mirror

And now:


Drum1_x500


Drum:

12_drum

And now:

Drum2_x800




Procession members in colorful outfits:

13_purpleyellowpriests

And now:

Colorful_outfits_x800



Priest carrying sacred paper:

14_priest

And now:


Gold_paper_x800



First mikoshi carrying Ieyasu’s divine spirit:


15_mikoshi_1


And now:


Mikoshi_tokugawa_x800


Second mikoshi carrying Hideyoshi TOYOTOMI's (豊臣秀吉) divine spirit:

16_mikoshi_2


And now:

Mikoshi_toyotomi_x800



Third mikoshi carrying Yoritomo MINAMOTO's (源頼朝) divine spirit. Ieyasu was a big admirer of Yoritomo.


17_mikoshi_3


And now:

Mikoshi_minamoto_x800



This last image is the cover picture of the booklet. It looks like it was taken during the Showa Era, I guess, in the early 80s, or so.

Cover_Old_Pic



There are no side ropes dividing the crowds from the procession. A crowd can be see on the top of the stone-wall by the path (right side under the cedar trees) - now it's a non-no to stand up there. No special paid seats were provided back then. And not so many photographers pushing their way up to the front. Not many foreigners, either.



To read more about the festival, please see Part One of this series.


And to see more photos of the festival and the procession, visit our photo blog - Tochigi Daily Photo - here and here and here.

3 comments:

  1. In 2004 when I attended this, I was able to watch it from up on the parade narrators platform. Excellent view.

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  2. Wow, excellent photos of the festival, and well done, photographing the images from the festival booklet.
    Looking at the "musha gyouretsu", the armoured soldiers in formation, made me nostalgic. I used to do that a lot in other festivals.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great and isightful comparision! I got the impression that the festival was much more cheerful in the past.

    ReplyDelete