When we talk about the spring in Kyoto, images of cherry blossoms come to mind. But the flower season actually starts much earlier, in February, with the blossoming of the plum flowers. One of the best places in Kyoto to enjoy these is a lovely shrine located in southern Kyoto, Jōnangū.
The event called Tanabata (Star) Festival relates to a romantic folk tale telling the story of the couple stars, the Lyre and Altair of Aquila that can only meet once a year on the night of July 7th (this day is called “Tanabata”). On this day, people of all ages will write their wishes on a strip of paper called “Tanzaku” and hang them on bamboo trees.
Taking photos of any event in Kyoto obviously requires some planning. During almost the whole month of July, the Gion Matsuri keeps us busy with numerous events, ceremonies, and other happenings. Some of these are more interesting than others from a photographic point of view.
Here is how I took a few photos of the “Naginata-hoko Chigo Shasan” ritual that took place in the Yasaka Jinja Shrine.
In the evening of July 10th, the deities of the Yasaka Jinja Shrine are placed on three mikoshi (portable shrine), and while one of them is carried to the Kamo river to be purified, the other two stay quietly on the central stage of the shrine.
The Heian Jingu Shrine garden, in Winter
We went to the shrine to see how the Japanese people welcome the new year. This place, being one of the major Shinto shrines in town, there were, of course, a lot of people. The garden, on the other hand, was almost empty.