The August 1 Hassaku Ceremony 8月1日の八朔祭り
Hanamachi beauties are out!
On August 1 , the city of Kyoto celebrates Hassaku, a centuries-old ceremony honoring the maiko of the Gion district. On this occasion, maiko and geisha go around the Hanamachi to thank all the merchants who have welcomed them during the year. A festival under the sign of gratitude which actually animates more than one district of the former capital!
Origin of the festival
Created more than 130 years ago in Kyoto , Hassaku literally refers to the " 1st day of the 8th month" of the old Japanese calendar. A date that was not chosen by chance, since it corresponds to the period when the new moon appears in the sky of the city.
The Hassaku celebrations are born in a difficult context . Ravaged by the plague and typhoons, the city of Kyoto is at its worst and its inhabitants are struggling to keep faith in the future.
With its songs and its offerings, the festivities mark the occasion to protect the city spiritually. An event that thus crystallizes the hopes of an entire people who hope for a better future with the coming of the new moon.
See also: Miyako Odori
Today, the festival continues. And as if to thank the moon for the benefits it brought to the city, hundreds of festival-goers celebrate Hassaku each year to express their gratitude to their protectors in heaven and on Earth.
A celebration of gratitude
On the occasion of Hassanaku, the maiko go around the district of Gion.
From the little Tasumi bridge to the heart of the Hanamachi , dozens of geisha line up in front of restaurants and small businesses in the neighborhood to thank the people who have helped them during the year.
From teachers to tea house owners to kimono masters, all receive warm messages of recognition from the artists.
To find out more: What is being a Geisha?
An important moment for the whole community, which also represents a good opportunity for festival -goers to admire the elusive beauties of Japan 's most famous Hanamachi up close !
Read: Gion and Higashiyama
Festivities over several weeks
The maiko aren't the only ones parading through the streets of Kyoto for the Hassaku festivities ! A festive period for the whole city, the festival actually runs from August 1 to mid-September. And many parades enliven the other districts of the former capital.
From the wanderings of the mikoshi ( portable altar) carried exclusively by women in Kyoto, to the lion dance performed for more than an hour to bring good luck to the entire city, Hassaku is therefore the event not to be missed if you are passing through Kyoto during the summer season.