Javascript must be enabled to view this site.

Read our system requirements.

Aoi Matsuri (Aoi Festival) » Kurabe Uma Shinji (Horse Races) at Kamigamo Shrine, Ashizoroe Shiki, Geheiden hall with festival banners during ceremony
1 of 1

Aoi Matsuri (Aoi Festival) » Kurabe Uma Shinji (Horse Races) at Kamigamo Shrine, Ashizoroe Shiki, Geheiden hall with festival banners during ceremony, result 1 of 1

Item Details
Public
Available to everyone
Title
Aoi Matsuri (Aoi Festival) » Kurabe Uma Shinji (Horse Races) at Kamigamo Shrine, Ashizoroe Shiki, Geheiden hall with festival banners during ceremony
Work Type
documentary photographs
Date
May 1, 1993
Location
Creation/Discovery Site: Asia»Japan»Kyoto»Kyoto
Kamigamo Jinja
Description
Work Description: The Imperial Messenger (Chokushi) views the horse-racing from this building. AOI MATSURI: During the Aoi festival, believed to be Kyoto’s oldest Shinto festival, an Imperial Messenger visits both of the Kamo Shrines (Kamigamo and Shimogamo). The festival is said to have started during the reign of the Emperor Kinmei (540-571) when rites to appease the kami (deities) were performed at the Shrines after severe storms had destroyed the harvests. Thereafter, officials are said to have paid regular visits to pray for abundant grain harvests. The festival probably assumed its present importance after the capital was transferred to Kyoto in 794 and it may have symbolized an agreement between pre-existing clans to provide a peaceful environment for the Emperor’s new abode. The festival’s name is derived from the Aoi flower, related to the hollyhock, which is used to decorate costumes and ceremonies during the event. The Aoi Festival is today one of Kyoto’s three famous big festivals, and attracts tourists from all over the country. The festival procession, traditionally consisting of ox-drawn carts, horses with golden saddles, and participants dressed in the most formal Heian costumes decorated with hollyhock (aoi) leaves, sets out from the Kyoto Imperial Palace and makes its way through the Tadasu-no-mori forest toward the Kamigamo Shrine via Shimogamo Shrine. The main festival takes place on May 15th, but a number of related events are of equal importance. Chief among these is the ritual to bring the deities from their rock abodes into the respective shrines for the event. During the deities’ residence in the shrines, a number of events are organized to entertain them. Today these events begin at the beginning of the month but in earlier times the span of the festival may have been greater. KAMIGAMO KURABE UMA SHINJI (HORSE RACES):  Just as Shimogamo is noted for its Yabusame (horseback archery) event, Kamigamo is famous for its horse racing event that takes place before the Aoi Festival. The event is nearly always illustrated on old “Raku-Chu Raku-Gai Zu” folding screens (depictions of places within and without the Capital) dating from the Muromachi period onwards, as a symbol of the shrine. It is believed that Kamigamo’s is the oldest horse racing event held at many Shinto Shrines. The Kamigamo horse racing has a peculiar set of regulations which stipulate that only descendants of the Kamo clan may ride the horses during the festival! The Kamo descendants are scattered throughout Japan and, as the likelihood of any of their youngsters being expert in the equestrian arts is extremely small, serious accidents usually occur at the festival. Ambulances frequently have to be called to transport some young rider that has been thrown from his horse (particularly on the final horse racing event of the festival, by which time – fortunately – most of the crowds have returned home). Due to the importance of horse racing at the shrine, a white horse, associated with the deities and the Emperor, is in regular “residence” at the Second Torii Gate. Kamigamo’s white horse (and many of the horses raced at the Aoi Festival) come from the Sangyo University’s riding club and the white horse returns from the shrine to its stables at night. Various preliminary equestrian sessions are held throughout April, culminating in the Ashizoroe Shiki (a purification for both horses and riders) held on May 1st. The final ritual equestrian event, the Keiba Shinji or Kurabe Uma Shinji is held on May 5th, just before the Aoi Festival when the Shrine God (as with Shimogamo) is actually in residence at the shrine to observe it. The Aoi Festival procession ends with an exhibition of horse racing enacted before the Imperial Messenger (chokushi). During the period of the horse racing practices, old equestrian accoutrements (saddles, stirrups, reins, etc.) are exhibited at the shrine on wooden horse-shaped frames. Many of these are said to date back to the Muromachi era and even earlier. KAMIGAMO SHRINE: The Kamo Shrines (Kamigamo and Shimogamo) are among the most important in Kyoto. Kamigamo Shrine is often ranked in importance after the Ise and Izumo Shrines (these latter being dedicated to the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu, and her miscreant brother, Susano-O no Mikoto). Early animistic, or “Primitive Shinto” believed that the gods (kami) resided in rocks, tress, mountains and other natural phenomena and had to be appeased regularly with suitable offerings in order to ensure the well-being of the community. In both the Kamo Shrines, the main deities are held to reside in rocks on significant hills, outside the Shrine precincts themselves. This is unusual, in that later “Shrine Shinto” (codified around the time of the creation of the legends embodied in the Kojiki and Nihon Shoki Chronicles in the 8th century), usually considered that the various deities were resident within their own shrines. Kamigamo's deity, Kamo Wakeikazuchi-no-Kami, is believed to reside primarily in a rock on Koyama Hill, some distance from the shrine. The origin myth of this deity states he is the son of Princess Tamayorihime-no-Mikoto, one of the deities of Shimogamo Shrine. Legend tells that one day, while bathing (whether in the Kamo River or the Izumi stream of Tadasu-no-mori is not clear), an arrow came flying down which the Princess took back home to the Shrine. At night the arrow transformed itself into a handsome young man (god) with whom the Princess conceived a child. The child, an equally good-looking young man, Kamo Wakeikazuchi-no-Kami, flew off in a thunderbolt to become the deity of Kamigamo Shrine. The legend is depicted on Kamigamo Shrine screens and is the origin of the both shrines’ association with arrows (that have thus come to be regarded as a symbol of fertility).
SC Accession
498639D
SC Order
ord025528
Rights
Image and scholarly information provided by David Boggett. Cataloging provided by Smith College Imaging Center, Department of Art, Hillyer Hall, Northampton, MA 01063; Elisa Lanzi, Director; voice: 413-585-3106; fax: 413-585-3119; elanzi@smith.edu. To use this image for purposes outside of the ARTstor Terms and Conditions of Use, please contact: David Boggett, davidboggett@Yahoo.co.uk. ©David Boggett. Universal
This image was provided by Smith College; Smith College only; Limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only.
Image and scholarly information provided by David Boggett. Cataloging provided by Smith College Imaging Center, Department of Art, Hillyer Hall, Northampton, MA 01063; To use this image for purposes outside of the ARTstor Terms and Conditions of Use, please contact: David Boggett, davidboggett@Yahoo.co.uk. ©David Boggett. Universal
This image has been selected and made available by a user using Artstor's software tools. Artstor has not screened or selected this image or cleared any rights to it and is acting as an online service provider pursuant to 17 U.S.C. §512. Artstor disclaims any liability associated with the use of this image. Should you have any legal objection to the use of this image, please visit http://www.artstor.org/copyright for contact information and instructions on how to proceed.
License
Use of this image is in accordance with the Artstor Terms & Conditions
File Properties
File Name
16167210.fpx
SSID
16167210

Now viewing Aoi Matsuri (Aoi Festival) » Kurabe Uma Shinji (Horse Races) at Kamigamo Shrine, Ashizoroe Shiki, Geheiden hall with festival banners during ceremony