Geisha and Maiko Add Beauty to Gorgeous Plum Tree FestivalKitano Tenmangu Shrine
The "Baika-sai" or Japanese plum blossom festival took place on February 25, the death anniversary of Sugawara no Michizane, at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto, where Michizane is enshrined. In addition to a Shinto ritual performed in the main shrine, a National Treasure, a tea ceremony party was held in the precincts filled with red and white plum blossoms in full bloom, where geisha and "Maiko," or apprentice geisha from "Kamishichiken," one of Kyoto's entertainment quarters, entertained visitors. Wrapped in the blossoms' sweet scent, many visitors enjoyed the taste of tea.
There are approximately 1,500 plum trees of 50 varieties throughout the precincts, many of which are in full bloom. Red parasols were placed in a corner in the western area of the precincts' plum garden. Geisha and Maiko welcomed visitors with matcha tea.
The "Baika-sai" boasts a history of more than 900 years. Led by Shigetoku Tachibana, the shrine's high priest, priests recalled Michizane's virtues in the Shinto ritual in the main shrine. The tea ceremony party has been held annually since 1952 to commemorate the great tea ceremony party in Kitano held by Hideyoshi Toyotomi during his lifetime.(translated by Galileo, Inc.)