難波の南蛮、戎橋の夷。

Kyoto Heat Wave 2- The Pagan Prosperity

So what of the rest of that day in Kyoto?  Well, prepare for a milestone in Perihele MultiActive Experience- blurry digital camera video!  Because there are some things that really need sound and motion to convey.

Whew!  What an oppressively hot day.  Good thing we have the Kamo River.

There was a festival atmosphere in the air, so on a hunch I walked down the road to Yasaka Shrine.

Indeed, a crowd was gathering.  The processioners brought forth a burning bundle of wood, and proceeded to march it through the gates and into the street.  I joined the throng and followed them out.

The parade was not without setback- a gang of men who had been drinking lugging a burning log through the city.

Carrying the fire to the river

I imagined what it must have been like conducting this procession in the age when everything was wooden, imagined the celebrants almost literally daring the fates to sweep the city clean.  The cops were on edge, shouting nonstop into bullhorns, urging people to move back.  It meant nothing to the festivalgoers.  I have the suspicion I was not supposed to be part of the parade marching in the street, but it mattered nothing.  The procession was full of people who clearly were not officially part of it in any way, and the celebrants were encouraging it.  It was tradition versus law, and law was feckless.

The parade brought the burning cord of wood to the river and spun it about before returning to the shrine.

They returned quickly with even more stacks of fiery wood, and the o-mikoshi, the portable shrines that carried the deities themselves.

By this point, the light was waning too much for decent image capturing, and besides I was getting too absorbed (and drunk) in the celebration to really worry about getting more material- but I did get this bit.  The parade returned with the portable shrine and danced it around the holy ground before retiring for the night.

I took the late train back to Osaka for the next morning’s work.  Proper sleep meant little after such a night.

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3 responses

  1. That is just awesome in every sense of the word. So the devoted followers take the Yasaka god out to the Kamo to cool off, bring the flaming log to the throng, chanting, drinking, inspiring. We are amazed.
    Well now, how DID you know to be there on this certain day, anyway?

    August 2, 2011 at 8:03 AM

  2. It was sheer luck that was my random day off from work, and I had the urge to wander Kyoto instead of loafing about.

    August 2, 2011 at 5:55 PM

  3. lord kelvin

    Even chance encounters are the result of karma

    August 3, 2011 at 4:42 AM

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