Friday, May 22, 2009

Procession of 1000 Warriors

Back to Tanya's tour.

The whole purpose of going to Nikko on Monday was to see the "1000 Persons Procession" sometimes called "The Procession of a 1000 Warriors" which is held twice a year. In the 17th century the Shogun carried out processions, I guess to show his power and thus the Nikko population takes part in this parade of sorts with everyone dressed up in costume.

According to the pamphlet we were given there were really 1200 people participating and what I found most interesting was that only two women were allowed to join the procession! They were depicting two virgins and I don't know why there were only two (or why the Shogun needed two!) and they were so lost in the crowd I didn't get a picture of them.

Oh well. I made one man stop and let me take a picture of his sandals which I thought must be very uncomfortable. They seemed to be all one size and this man's feet were hanging out over the ends!

Horses are not a big part of Japanese culture but the shoguns (which I think can translate as General) had horses and so there were 5 or 6 in Monday's parade. The man riding on the horse in back happens to be Nikko's mayor.

Lots of interesting warrior costumes though not a lot of action. Just a procession with the citizens carrying swords or spears or shields.

A few men were carrying fake birds because I think falconry was a favorite sport of the samurai.

There were children participating in the procession but I'm not sure what they were trying to be.

Finally some of these huge altars were carried through the crowds and the spectators threw money into them as offerings. This is common at any temple or shrine and there is usually a box where someone can drop in a few coins before he prays. It is never very much money, what amounts to a dime or a dollar at the most. So as these altars were being carried, money rained down from both sides of the streets and the men carrying the altar were getting pelted!

Of course not everyone's aim is that good so a lot of the coins fell alongside the road. Following each altar, a group of little boys dressed in brown scampered around picking up the fallen coins and the spectators very cheerfully pointed out coins that got missed. The little boys are supposed to be Nikko monkeys and each boy had a monkey mask strapped to his back! That made me laugh and they really did look like monkeys scrabbling in the ground looking for shiny coins!

And the final participant in the procession was the head Shinto priest of the Toshogu Shrine. He rode a pure white horse and was the only one who got a sun umbrella!

Hope you enjoyed the morning in Nikko. Back to the sewing room!


Allie said...

My feet ache just LOOKING at those sandals. Yikes! I would imagine those altars get heavier as the procession proceeds, with more money being put into it, and those poor guys getting hit with coins! Thanks for the tour Tanya, fascinating as always!

Callie said...

Thank you for another glimpse into Japanese life. Looks like everyone had a wonderful day! Tanya, did you wear one of your great hats? I see the ladies lined up along the road had a variety of hats.

meggie said...

Another fascinating look at life in Japan. Thankyou Tanya.

CT said...

WOW! I loved the costumes! I've always liked dressing up, and Japanese traditional clothing has always fascinated me!!! Thank you for the tour of the parade... When will you post more kimono photos?

See ya!

conny's quilts said...

Great that you share this event with us Tanya, Japanese folklore! Thank you, it is very interesting. Greetings, Conny (from the Netherlands)