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Tattoo and white horse, Gion Matsuri 1986
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Image by Ad Blankestijn
The Gion Festival held in July in Kyoto originates in a ceremony held in the 9th c. in the Shinsenen Pond, then element of the Imperial Palace. Halberds were carried here and dipped in the water as supplication to the gods to finish an infectious disease. The festival was annually repeated and grew in size – in due time it was taken more than from the court by the citizens of Kyoto. The renowned floats 1st appeared in the Middle Ages, to please the gods with music, dance and spectacle. The lead float, Naginata Boko, still carries a halberd on the roof as reference to the origin of the festival. It is also the only one that nevertheless has a child (Chigo) as representation of the god. There are 32 hoko (carts) and yama (floats) constructed and maintained for centuries by neighborhood associations of merchants in central Kyoto. They are decorated with fabulous carvings and ancient Gobelin tapestries and other drapery. All floats tell a story from Chinese legend or Japanese myth.

Tattoed males taking component in the mikoshi tour.

This series consists of scans from slides taken in July, 1989.

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Image by graysonhary
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