Waka Elegantly Serves in Aspired Position of "Saio-dai"Following Her Mother and Two Aunts in Important Role15 May 2016 - Sightseeing/Events
With the costumes of the Heian Period waving in the balmy breeze, the flamboyant imperial-court-style procession advanced slowly along the streets of the ancient capital. Favored by good weather on May 15, the Aoi Festival was held in Kyoto City. Roadside viewers were enveloped in the resplendent atmosphere as the "Saio-dai," or festival heroine, dressed in multilayered "Junihitoe" kimono and seated on a wheeled palanquin called "Oyoyo," proceeded gracefully amid the fresh greenery of Kamo-Kaido Street.
"When I saw so many people along the street, I was reminded that this is the festival of Kyoto. It was a privilege for me to serve as 'Saio-dai.' It was a very satisfying day."
Waka Nishimura from Yamashina Ward, Kyoto, who works for "Zohiko," a long-established Kyoto lacquer factory, served as the 61st "Saio-dai." Her face showed relief after she completed the Shinto ritual at Kamigamo Shrine.
The Nishimura family is a "Saio-dai family." The three sisters, Waka's mother, Kazumi, and her two aunts, Kazusa Tsugita and Kazuna Kishimoto, have all served as "Saio-dai." From an early age, Waka grew up seeing photos and articles of her mother and aunts serving in the role, so "Saio-dai" is an integral part of her life. She said, "It is what I aspired to be."
Kazumi, along with her husband Tsuyoshi, watched Waka step into the wheeled palanquin, and said with deep feeling, "I remembered my own time and was more nervous than when it was my turn." As they saw her off from Kyoto Imperial Palace, Waka's two aunts advised, "Behave with appropriate manners and attitude as 'Saio-dai.'"
Waka works as a spokesperson for "Zohiko," which dates back to the Edo Period. Before playing the important role, she studied the history of the Aoi Festival again, and became even more fascinated with Kyoto's depths. With her name left in the traditional name for "Saio-dai's" role of the Aoi Festival, she has her eyes fixed on the future, saying, "I want to make the most of the cultural Kyoto spirit even in my business."(translated by Galileo, Inc.)