What is the Zuiki Matsuri?
Presumably tracing all the way back to over more than a thousand years ago, the Zuiki Matsuri is a 5 day festival that expresses gratitude to the deities for the bountiful harvests that will come in autumn.
On the first day of October, a large parade carrying many “omikoshi” (portable shrines) depart from Kitanotenmangu Shrine and makes its way through the neighborhood streets of Nishijin until the next designated shrine. The display of many traditional garments from men, women and children give a distinctive ambiance to the everyday routine of life in this area and make it the perfect day to enjoy one of the many cultural traditions offered by Kyoto.
The second and third day are assigned for rituals and preparation for the return of the “omikoshi” to the main shrine of Kitanotenmangu. These rituals mainly include tea ceremonies from well known masters of “Sado” (the art of the tea ceremony), and dances by the young girls taking part in the parade.
The fourth day is the return of the parade with all its glory. The main “omikoshi” has been decorated with fruits and dried vegetables, while another one is carefully pushed by oxen. This is another great opportunity to watch the beauty of this festival, particularly if being present on the first day was not possible, since this is the peak of the festival.
Celebrating Autumn in KyotoOn the final stretch towards Kitanotenmangu Shrine, the parade goes through the old “hanamachi” (geisha district) of Kamishichiken. The old “machiya” houses make it the perfect scenario for taking in the experience and getting some amazing pictures. In addition to this, the local “maiko” and “geiko” (geisha master and apprentice) also come out next to neighbors and shop attendants to presence the uniqueness of the Zuiki Matsuri. It is important to note that it is always required to ask the “maiko” or “geiko” permission to take a picture, particularly in events like this one since they become part of it for the enjoyment of everybody.
The fifth and last day takes place in the main shrine of Kitanotenmangu. Here, girls selected by the shrine to form part of the parade shall offer a traditional dance called “Yaotomemai” as part of a Shinto ritual. After this, the “omikoshi” can be seen onsite until they are dismantled until next year.
The city of Kyoto has many cultural events like this all year round, and it certainly is a privilege for Sakura House Kyoto to be so close to a shrine as important as Kitanotenmangu. But this is not the only place near us to take on such eye-catching festivals. The neighborhood of Nishijin has a long tradition with lots to offer.
Stay put on our next blog posts about Kyoto and many other marvels around Japan. If you are planning your trip to discover the amazement of Kyoto, we have the perfect house for you, your family and friends to stay together while enjoying the everyday life experience of cultural Kyoto.