The Reisai Festival, held annually at the Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto is distinguished by an ancient dance performance. Dating back to the Heian period, this performance serves as a ritual homage to the shrine’s gods. The traditional dance segment commences at around 10:00am during the festive celebration.
Celebrating a Millennia-Old Tradition with Song and Dance
Running for over a millennium, the Reisai Festival highlights Japan’s rich cultural history through its vibrant festivities. Centred on traditional court performances of song and dance, it offers an intimate connection with ancient Japanese customs and beliefs. It’s one of the most fascinating Kyoto events in June.
The procession begins on the eve with kagura music and dance performances. Kagura represents a series of dynamic songs and dances that were performed at the Imperial Court and shrines across Japan during the Heian period. This is followed by the main event on festival day featuring an Azuma-asobi dance and waka poetry recital.
The Ancient Rhythms of Kagura Music
The magical night before the mainstream festival witnesses enchanting kagura music and dance performances. Inspired by age-old traditions from as far back as the Heian Period, these performances enrich visitors’ experience of this landmark celebration.
Kagura music is unique, produced on traditional Japanese musical instruments such as Kagura Suzu (Bells), Taiko (Drum), Hichiriki (Double Reed flute) and Sho (mouth organ). Underneath the starry Kyoto night sky, performers deliver intoxicating rhythms that signify deep-rooted Japanese heritage and offer worship to deities.
Spotlight on Azuma-asobi Dance Performance
During festival day, spectators are treated to an enchanting Azuma-asobi dance performance. This unique art form originated in Japan during the Heian period and holds significant cultural value.
Performed in gorgeous ancient costumes adorned with symbolic accessories, dancers move gracefully bringing ancient carvings to life. Paired precisely with inspiring verses from waka poetry recitals, these performances encapsulate integral aspects of traditional Japanese culture.
Yasaka Gagaku-Kai: Masters of Traditional Court Dance
Adding splendour to Yasaka Shrine Festival is Gagaku-kai ensemble who offer spellbinding traditional court performances. The group consists of talented individuals who have mastered the art of ancient music and dance forms.
Through their melodies, they present spectators a glimpse into Japan’s intricate artistic past. Their rendition serves not only as entertainment but also allows festival-goers to appreciate Japan’s profound cultural richness.
Yasaka Shrine: An Abode of Summer Rituals
Yasaka Shrine Festival is one of Kyoto’s beloved summer rituals tracing its roots back to the Heian period. The shrine itself is remarkable – steeped in centuries-old history it epitomises spiritual vibrance throughout each season.
Summer swells with abundant joy thanks to Yasaka Shrine’s traditional festivals offering amazing displays steeped in deep cultural importance. With every beat and delicate movement, participants celebrate both religious tradition and artistic flare.
If you want to experience a magical blend of tradition, nature, and tranquility, don’t miss the enchanting “Hotaru bi no Chaka” at Shimogamo Shrine. Immerse yourself in the captivating tea ceremony amidst the flickering fireflies, creating an ethereal atmosphere that transports you to another world. As you sip your tea by the serene streamside, surrounded by the ancient vegetation and the gentle glow of 600 fireflies released.