Gion Festival's Ayagasa Hoko Float to Debut in USAFirst Yamahoko Float from Kyoto Exhibited Overseas
It was revealed by August 27 that the Ayagasa Hoko float from Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, which participates in the early procession of the Gion Festival, will be unveiled in Portland, Oregon, USA, this September. The Gion Festival is one of Japan's three major festivals. This will be the first time that the festival's Yama or Hoko float itself crosses the ocean to be shown. The Ayagasa Hoko float will be exhibited at an event introducing the culture of Kyoto at the Japanese garden in Portland. Along with the festival's "Kon-chiki-chin" melody played by a troupe of festival musicians from the Naginata Hoko float which will also participate from Shimogyo Ward, the Ayagasa Hoko float will publicize Kyoto's traditional festival culture to people overseas.
The Portland Japanese Garden was established as part of a project commemorating the sister-city partnership between Portland and Sapporo. Various US-Japan cross-cultural events as well as an introduction to Japan's garden culture have been held at the approximately 22,000 square meter garden. With this year marked as "the Year of Kyoto," "Gion-bayashi" festival music of the Naginata Hoko float will be performed on September 15 and 16. In addition, the Ayagasa Hoko float itself, which is the most suitable for overseas shipment due to its compact size, has been invited to be exhibited along with divine masks and other items until the beginning of November.
Five staff members will accompany the Ayagasa Hoko float to the venue. The pieces of the disassembled float body have been already shipped to the United States by air, and will be reassembled at the Portland Japanese Garden for the exhibition. Approximately 20 musicians from the Naginata Hoko float's troupe will play festival music in the event and visitors will be invited to experience the performance of hand-held brass gongs and drums.
"This float is small, however I expect it will introduce well the culture of Kyoto to people in the United States," affirmed the chairman of the Ayagasa Hoko Hozonkai preservation group. A representative for the musicians said, "I hope visitors will enjoy our music as the first step to becoming interested in Gion Festival, and then come and see Kyoto firsthand in the future."(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)