In preparation of the Shimogamo shrine’s main festival, the Aoi Matsuri that takes place on May 15th, an archery event, the Busha-shinji, brings archers attired in traditional samurai armor into the Tadasu-no-mori, the wood about the shrine. Nearby, priests assemble at the Mitarashi River for the Misogi-no-gi, the preparatory rite of the Aoi Festival. In this ceremony, members of the Ogasawara-ryu School of Archery shoot arrows to a target representing evil and bad spirits, to drive them away.

We were able to get a nice spot to see the ceremony and take a few photos, but for this, we arrived more than an hour before the planned starting time for the ceremony.  Many other photographers came even earlier!