KYOTO -- "Mikoshi" portable shrines associated with the Imperial Family were paraded through the Kyoto Imperial Palace grounds for the Shinkosai festival for the first time in about 150 years on May 1.
Goryo (Kamigoryo) Shrine in Kamigyo Ward and Shimogoryo Shrine in Nakagyo Ward in the western Japan prefecture of Kyoto have close historical ties to the Imperial Family as they have received mikoshi from emperors and retired emperors, according to the shrines. It is believed that emperors enjoyed viewing the parade in the past, but the procession near the palace had not been held since the emperor's residence was moved to Tokyo following the toppling of the Tokugawa government and the Meiji Restoration in 1868.
During the annual Shinkosai festival on May 1 -- the enthronement day of new Emperor Naruhito -- shrine officials planned to revive old customs by parading the mikoshi through Kyoto Gyoen National Garden in Nakagyo Ward, now a park but once a residential estate for the Imperial Family and court nobles.
Three mikoshi from Kamigoryo Shrine entered the park and participants offered a Shinto prayer in front of Kyoto Imperial Palace's Sakuhei-mon Gate. Worshippers carrying a mikoshi from Shimogoryo Shrine also offered a prayer in front of Sento Imperial Palace in the park.
(Japanese original by Kenji Yagura, Kyoto Bureau)