Oldest Daughter of Historic Lacquer Factory Selected as Aoi Festival's "Saio-dai"In Footsteps of Her Mother and Two Aunts, Kyoto12 April 2016 - Tradition/Culture
Selection of Waka Nishimura, a company employee in Yamashina Ward, as the 61st "Saio-dai," or heroine of the Aoi Festival was announced by the "Aoi-Matsuri Gyoretsu Hozonkai," or Aoi Festival procession conservation group on April 12. The festival will take place on May 15 and is one of Kyoto's three major festivals. Enlivening the capital with her role of heroine, she is a second generation "Saio-dai" with her mother Kazumi having served as the 25th in 1980. They are the fifth mother-daughter set to have served as "Saio-dai."
Kazumi, her mother, has two younger sisters who also served as the 29th "Saio-dai" in 1984 and the 35th in 1990, respectively. Thus they are a "Saio-dai family."
Waka is the oldest daughter of Kazumi and Tsuyoshi Nishimura, president of "Zohiko," a long-established Kyoto lacquer factory dating back to the early Edo Period. She graduated from Kyoto Notre Dame University. Currently, she works for the family's company as a spokesperson. She has a license as a curator. Her hobby is visiting art museums.
When asked about being selected as "Saio-dai" at the press conference at a hotel in Kamigyo Ward, Waka dressed in kimono expressed her aspirations, saying, "I couldn't help but be surprised, however I am filled with feelings of gratitude and happiness. I would like to get myself into good physical and mental condition. I am looking forward to wearing a multilayered 'Junihitoe' kimono." As for playing the same major role as her mother and aunts did, she said with smile, "Since a young age, I have looked at the photos and newspaper articles of my mother's Aoi Festival. I can get advice from her directly. That will be a great help."
Following the precedent of imperial princesses who served as "Saio" for Kamigamo Shrine and Shimogamo Shrine in the Heian Period, the role was revived in 1956 as "Saio-dai" or deputy "Saio."(translated by Galileo, Inc.)