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Kyoto Yamashina Gishi Matsuri - A Celebration of Japanese History

This video, titled "Kyoto Festival: 47 Rōnin March (Gishi Matsuri) [4K]," was produced by "Discover Kyoto."
Yamashina, located in the western area of Japan’s ancient capital Kyoto, is a small basin surrounded by rich natural scenery and mountains on three sides.
Here, there is a festival related to Ako Roshi, or the 47 Ronin, famous from Chushingura. That festival is the Kyoto Yamashina Gishi Matsuri (festival), introduced in the video.

Chushingura is well known among Japanese people.
Although there are many places in Tokyo related to Chushingura, such as Edo Castle, Lord Kira's Residence, and Sengakuji Temple, there is a scene called Act 9: Yamashiro Kankyo no Ba (Yamashiro's Retreat) in "Kanadehon Chushingura," which is a script of Ningyo Joruri (a Japanese puppet show) and Kabuki, and the story’s setting is in Kyoto. This is the land where one of the key members of Chushingura, Oishi Kuranosuke, lived in hiding until he was killed, so there are many so there are many historical sites associated with the 47 Ronin.

Because of this historical connection, "Yamashina Gishi Matsuri” is held on December 4 every year, where a procession of the samurai troops in their battle costumes parades through the town (video 1:12), and reenactments of Chushingura’s famous "Ninjo Matsu no Roka," "Seppuku," "Renbanjo Aratame," "Raid, "Oishi Ondo" (video 2:50-) as well as the "Genroku Hanami Dance" by women, liven up the festival.
Enjoy the video of Kyoto's Yamashina Gishi Matsuri, which will have you feeling as though you've traveled back in time to the Edo period!

The Parade Course of Kyoto's Yamashina Gishi Matsuri

In front of the main hall of Bishamon-do, there is a departure ceremony early in the morning that all members attend.
This can be seen in the video at 0:55.

The group, dressed as Oishi Kuranosuke and his loyalists, departs from Bishamon-do and walk through the area to Ako Oishi Shrine via the Kyoto City Tobu Culture Hall.
Bishamon-do, where the 47 Ronin depart from, is a temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism that enshrines Bishamonten
In fact, this Bishamon-do plays an important role in the Chushingura story.

The treatment of the 47 Ronin after killing Kira Kozukenosuke was complicated and opinions were divided in the Bakufu (government).
Troubled by this, Tokugawa Tunayoshi, the shogun at the time, asked Kōben-hosshinnō his opinions on the matter.
Koben recognized the allegiance of 47 Ronin, but at the same time, told Tsunayoshi that giving death is also a mercy. They were ordered to commit seppuku (ritual suicide), and it is said that their bodies were buried in Sengakuji Temple in Tokyo.

Therefore, with the advice from Koben, the warriors' were able to fulfill their duties, and Bishamon-do became the starting point of the Yamashina Gishi Matsuri parade.
Incidentally, the present Bishamon-do was moved to the grounds of Anshoji Temple in 1665, after it was abolished during the Onin War. Access to Bishamondo, the starting point of Yamashina Gishi Matsuri, is a 20-minute walk from JR Yamashina Station.

The History of the Yamashina Gishi Matsuri in Kyoto, and Access to the Area

Image of Kyoto・Bishamon-do

Yamashina, Kyoto is a famous sightseeing place in Japan, with rich natural scenery and many historical locations.
Yamashina Gishi Matsuri is an event related to Chushingura, but there are other famous places, such as Zuishinin where the female poet Ono no Komachi, who was active in Heian period (794-1185), lived, and the area is also the where the ancestors of Murasaki Shikibu lived.

Arashiyama and Kiyomizudera Temple are famous places to view the autumn foliage in Kyoto They're also great for learning about the history of Japan, so be sure to check them out if you have the chance.
It takes about 5 minutes to get to JR Yamashina Station from Kyoto Station. It's usually very crowded on the day of the event, and it is difficult to find a parking space, so we recommend using public transportation.

Summary of Kyoto's Yamashina Gishi Matsuri

The Yamashina Gishi Matsuri Photo Contest is also held on the day of Yamashina Gishi Matsuri.
Besides the 47 Ronin parade, there are many highlights such as Gomataki, which is introduced at 2:11 in the video.

This traditional festival, which tells the story of Japan's historical romance, is something you don't want to miss!
Enjoy the heroic ranks of the 47 Ronin, dressed for battle, in 4K!

Written By
Last Updated : Sep. 15, 2020
児玉 勇(Yu Kodama)
A writer who loves Japan and yakitori
The Kyoto Yamashina Gishi Festival Feels Like a Trip Back in Time! The Traditional Japanese Atmosphere Created by the Parade Group Dressed as the 47 Ronin, Is an Event in Kyoto's Yamanashi Ward You Don’t Want to Miss!
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