Mifune Matsuri 
Kurumazaki Shrine, Arashiyama, Kyoto


mifune matsuri 01.jpg


Mifune Matsuri, Arashiyama, Kyoto
三船祭り 車折神社 京都嵐山

Mifune matsuri is a re-enactment of the ancient aristocracy in Arashiyama. Some twenty boats loads with musicians, dancers, and players chanting passages from Noh dramas and ancient poetry, row up and down the Oigawa River led by the imperial boat. Court music (gagaku) is played on the dragon boat. The phoenix boat follows with several shrine maidens (miko) performing the offering of traditional sacred dance (kagura).  

The name mifune (three boats) derives from the three boats for transporting the persons who were proficient in Chinese poetry (kanshi), Japanese poetry (waka), and musical performance. They accompanied Emperor Shirakawa (1053-1129) when he visited the Oigawa River. It is believed that the Japanese phrase Sansen no sai was invented, when Fujiwara no Kinto (966-1041), who had outstanding gifts in all the three artistic fields, arrived late and could not figure out which boat to board.  

Mifune festival is dedicated to the Kurumazaki shrine (broken cart shrine), which deifies Kiyohara Yorinari, a Confucian scholar of about the 12th century. The shrine received its name after Emperor Gosaga's ox cart broke down in front of it. A performing arts shrine in the precincts of Kurumazaki has many devotees in the entertainment world. The shrine was built in 1957, when film stars asked if they could establish a shrine to bring good luck to show business. Many famous stars visit the shrine to offer prayers so that they can give better stage performances or rise in popularity. 


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