The Kamigamo Shrine in Kyoto has been attracting attention not for its thousand-year history, but for an event initiated only in 2008. The Yoroi Kizome-shiki ceremony, now held annually in late November, allows families the exciting opportunity to don traditional samurai armor and participate in a vibrant procession through the shrine’s grounds. It’s definitely one of the most exciting Kyoto events in November.
Sponsored by Traditional Armor Manufacturer Usagi Juku
Usagi Juku, a respected manufacturer devoted to preserving the ancient craft of Japanese armor-smithing, has been sponsoring the festival since it first began. The company’s dedication is evident in their intricate re-creations of o-yoroi suits of armor. This style was prominent during Heian culture from the 10th to the 15th centuries AD, evoking a sense of historical grandeur amidst colorful autumn foliage.
The Yoroi Kizome-shiki ritual marks a significant occasion where participants dress up in these replicated suits. Young boys and girls are garbed in realistically detailed armor, made using lacquer paper connected with cords; thus transforming them into miniature samurai during this fashionable pageantry.
Yoroi Kizome-shiki: A Tradition Continued for Future Generations
This procession mirrors a time-honored tradition of maturation where one would first don their armor as a mark of their coming-of-age. Families are seen enthused at participating with their children or grandchildren to carefully create detailed helmets and suits they will wear through the festival. The ceremonies conducted at Kamigamo Shrine wish for young participants’ health, growth, and good fortune.
Participants can be seen moving through the shrine’s grounds towards a purification ritual at the main hall, bringing alive images of Heian period warriors with their sightly armory set against rich autumn hues providing an unforgettable spectacle.
Preserving Ancient Armor-Smithing Skills
Apart from sponsoring the Yoroi Kizome-shiki event, Usagi Juku showcases its expertise in authentic armour reproduction through exhibiting meticulously designed pieces. Elaborate elements linked together with brightly colored silk cords display fine craft replete with gilded or brass ornaments topping each piece.
Bringing more life into the procession, many participants carry daikyu longbows and quivers of arrows on their backs mimicking archaic warrior roles previously performed by samurais. Some even sport spare bowstring reels that can be recognized from classic literature such as ‘Heike Monogatari’.
Experience Heian-era Glory
The spectacle proved to be a colorful exhibition involving men, women and children attired in splendid replica armors parading around the shrine — a perfect representation of Kyoto’s rich cultural past resurfacing via this contemporary celebration.
For those willing to dive deeper into this unique experience, opportunities abound to learn how to assemble your own suit of armor under Usagi Juku’s guidance; or simply enjoy watching participants parade past portraying scenes reminiscent of tales from Japan’s historical records.
Looking for an exciting and captivating event in Kyoto? Look no further than the Hitaki-sai Fire Festival at Fushimi Inari Shrine! This annual festival, held on November 8th each year, showcases a unique and ritualistic experience that combines spirituality and festivity.