Fujinomori Matsuri held at Fujinomori Shrine is a chance to see riders show their exquisite skills on horseback
Fujinomori Shrine is in Kyoto’s Fushimi-ku, and every year for five days from May 1 they hold the festival Fujinomori Matsuri. During the festival there are many food stalls in the shrine area, portable shrines are carried around the shrine, there are Japanese drum performances, and there is also a samurai parade; this is a big event for Kyoto’s Fushimi-ku. Among these festival activities, the “Kakeuma Shinji” horse-riding ritual on May 5 where the representatives of the shrine show their exquisite skills on horseback is something you can’t miss. There are five sekku, annual ceremonies that were held at the Japanese imperial court, and the one held on May 5 as a prayer for boys to grow up strong is “Shobu no sekku,” also known as “Tango no sekku,” and because the word shobu has the same pronunciation as the word “contest” in Japanese. Because of this reason the skillful horse-riding was originally a ritual to pray for the safe return from the battlefield and victory for the samurai. If you get to see this jaw-dropping ritual you will surely not forget it. *Fujinomori Shrine is sometimes mistakenly called Fujimori Shrine, and the festival is also sometimes called Fujimori Matsuri, but Fujinomori Matsuri is the correct name for it.
The horse-riding ritual where the rider and the horse become one
This ritual where the riders show their great skills on horseback can trace back its history to 1200 years ago, and this ritual has been designated as an intangible cultural asset of Kyoto. This ritual is not only about stunts on horseback; these great feats of skill were actually useful for the samurai on the battlefield.
A “Shinkosai” procession with people wearing samurai armor and helmets, and carrying portable shrines
On May 5 a procession called “Shinkosai” where portable shrines are carried around the places where the parishioners of the shrine live. This is done in order to pray for the health and prosperity of the parishioners. These portable shrines are widely considered to be the most beautiful in Kyoto, and they can be said to be great works of art. Prince Sawara is enshrined at the shrine, and it is said that he once prayed for victory at Fujinomori Shrine before going to war, which is why he now leads the procession of the samurai and the marching band.
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Fujinomori Matsuri / 藤森祭
|Address||609 Fukakusatoriizaki-cho, Fushimi-ku, Kyoto City 612-0863|
|Directions||A 5-minute walk from JR Fujinomori Station.|
|Event time||・Shinkosai procession on May 5 from 7 a.m. ・Kakeumashinji horse-riding May 5 from 1 p.m. and from 3p.m.|
|Cancellations||If it only rains a little the event will not be canceled.|
Free to watch.
This is a popular ritual and every year many tourists go to the shrine to see it. The staff can only speak Japanese but you should be able to enjoy this ritual just by looking.
|Lanuages spoken||Only Japanese.|