Kamo Kyokusui no En｜加茂曲水宴
In the style of lavish poetry parties held during the Heian period, Kamigamo Shrine is host to the Kamo Kyokusui no En each year at 13:00 on the second Sunday in April. Based on a particular event from the shrine's history that was held by Priest Shigeyasu in 1182, the Kamo Kyokusui no En takes place in a winding stream garden in the shrine's southeast grounds, the vibrant spring moss and shrine hall decorated with crimson umbrellas and sprigs of flowers.
These days, the event is presided over by the Saiō-dai, a woman representing an unmarried imperial princess who historically served as honorary shrine priestesses. Five poets, four from the Reizei-ke Shigure-tei Bunko organization and one selected by contest submission, arrange themselves along the stream and receive the poetry theme. For example, the theme in 2016 was "hana wo matsu" ("waiting on flowers"). As young children guide small boats of sake through the water, the poets compose poems and enjoy a drink, and in the background musicians play lilting koto harp and flute.
These poems are done in classic tanka 5-7-5-7-7 format, and the poets can compose multiple poems as the whim strikes, their ink-dipped calligraphy pens moving smoothly over the paper. When the time comes, the authors select which of their poems they will submit for offering, and the final works are collected by a priest to be read aloud in chorus in the shrine hall, dedicated to the kami deities.
For more information on this cultured seasonal event, check the video below!
Things to See/Do