Nov. 15, 2018 UPDATE
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The festival of Cherry blossom, a symbol of Japan at Hirano Shrine
Hirano Shrine holds Cherry Blossom Festival every year on 10th April. The origin of the festival goes back in 985 when Emperor Kazan visited the shrine and ordered a special festival in hope of prosperity for his descendants. The festival was revived in 1921 and has been continued up to the present. The festival includes the cherry blossom festival starting at 10:00, the ceremony at the mausoleum of Emperor Kazan at 11:00, and the ceremony of a procession of the portable shrine at 12:00. About 200 acolytes surrounding the portable shrine start parading through the neighboring area from 13:00. It is said that initial blooming of Sakigake-Sakura, endemic to Hirano Shrine, in the middle of March is a sign of the start of a cherry blossom season. Additionally, about 60 kinds of cherry blossoms originated from the shrine can be viewed, such as Hirano-imose Sakura, Hirano-nioi Sakura, Kinugasa Sakura and Toppane Sakura. ▼Click here for Writer's Blog http://sharing-kyoto.com/Blog/b_Okasai/
Ceremonies are held inside the shrine in the morning. A divine soul is transferred into the portable shrine after being purified and moved 10 km up to the mausoleum of Emperor Kazan in order to pray for successful completion of the cherry blossom festival.
The procession of the portable shrine
The ceremony of a procession of the portable shrine starts at 12:00 and first purifies the portable shrine as well as accompanying acolytes. A parade then starts proceeding at a slow pace from the neighboring area, to Imadegawa street in the south; Badai street in the west; the Kinkakuji area in the north; and Senbon street in the east between 13:00 and 15:30. The parade is joined by men in a costume of warriors conducting horseback archery as well as ladies in kimono, like a picture scroll of an ancient era.
The shrine is lit up from sunset to 9pm during the season of the end of March to April (a detailed schedule is decided by blooming of cherry trees)