Journal entry. October 20, 2019, Arayashiyama, in the western outskirts of Kyoto, Japan—
#SecondWindTravelers witnessed the historic Saigū Gyōretsu｜斎宮行列 here today, a reenactment of a ritual in honor of the high priestess Saigū, who during the Heian Period of Japan, was the royal family’s emissary to the sun goddess Amaterasu.
This procession started from the Nonomiya Shrine, and ended by the banks of Katsura River, passing the famous Togetsukyo Bridge that has the backdrop of the picturesque Arashiyama Mountain. Costumed performers in full court regalia acted in many roles: Men are servants, soldiers, and priests; women are noble attendants and handmaidens.
The Saigū character was carried in a palanquin pulled by a humungous ox. In the olden days, she was a royalty herself and commanded strength of character that is regarded today as The Sacred Feminine. #inmyopinion
The procession took one-and-a-half hours. Upon reaching the river, the purification ceremony called Omisogi No Gi followed. Through prayers and the cleansing powers of water, she purifies herself to be worthy in the presence of the sun goddess Amaterasu.
We were right in the middle of hundreds of visitors to the Arashiyama area who walked with the procession. Organizers of the event allowed us a few minutes for photo opportunities. We admired the way people gave turns to one another during the pictorials, both locals and tourists. There was no guideline for discipline but we may describe the collective behavior as “cordial and courteous,” traits the Japanese are known for. Even among foreigners, this Japanese energy is infectious.
It was also a tedious journey for Dutchie and I. Imagine, we left our Osaka apartment at the early hours of the morning to travel from Namba Station to Shin-Osaka; where we took the Shinkansen to Kyoto; where we took the JR train to Inari; where we dropped our luggage at our airbnb there; then back again to Kyoto; where we took the JR Saga-Arashiyama train. Whew. I bet you had a headache just reading this.
Fortunately, neither Dutchie nor myself went into tantrums. My feet cried, “Where art thou, Onitsuka Tiger when I needed you?!” <Gotta find ya somewhere heah.> Crying feet stopped after a cone of Matcha ice cream.
Truly, we were blessed by the Saigū and the festive Japanese spirit. After what we went through to make it to the event on time, the day turned out perfectly well. We went into a sweet restful mode and
By the River Katsura We Sat Down and Laughed.