mifune-matsuri21The scene of a boat party on a river from 1,000 years ago is reproduced by some 20 boats on the Oigawa River flowing through Arashiyama in Kyoto. Every year, 100,000 tourists come to view this graceful spectacle. This is an event organized by the Kurumazaki Shrine standing close to the river, and originates in a ceremony that was held upon receiving the Emperor on his visit to this land.

After a ritual held at the shrine at noon, people dressed in ancient costumes proceed along the beautiful Togetsukyo Bridge and board the boats. Their costumes are very colorful, and you will also see cute little children who are dressed in kimono, too. Also interesting are the boats which have dragon heads or birds’ heads designed on the prow. Each boat has its assigned role, for example, there is a boat carrying musicians who play music, while dance performances are given on another boat, or poetry is recited on a different boat. Sensu fans of all colors are floated on the water surface by ladies dressed in 12 layers of kimono known as juni-hitoe, producing a most exquisite and graceful spectacle.

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