Kyokusui no Utage曲水の宴

Summary

Poets work to the sound of koto music during Kyokusui no Utage at Jōnangū Shrine.

Kyokusui no Utage, an elegant form of leisure entertainment enjoyed by nobles in ancient Japan, is reenacted at Jōnangū Shrine in southern Kyoto twice a year in spring and autumn. Peaking in popularity in the late Nara period (8th century) and the following Heian period, the practice slowly died out as the samurai gained political power, until a revival in the mid-1900s.

A Shirabyōshi performs during Kyokusui no Utage at Jōnangū Shrine.

Jōnangū hosts their Kyokusui no Utage (Wandering Stream Banquet) on April 29th and November 3rd each year starting from 2pm. Local poets dressed as Heian period nobility in rich silk robes proceed into the garden and receive the year's poetry theme from the shrine priests. Each year a theme related to the Japanese classic The Tale of Genji is selected for the poems, 2015’s being "Yūgasumi", or "evening mist". During the banquet each poet is tasked with writing a poem that includes the theme.

A poet draws inspiration during the 2015 Kyokusui no Utage at Jōnangū Shrine.

The ancient nobles were a cultured bunch, and while being educated in poetry and composition was considered a sign of refinement, they also enjoyed the finer things in life... such as alcohol. Sake (rice wine) is poured into small cups and sent sailing down the small stream on bird-shaped boats, with little pages holding bamboo poles tending to the boats and assisting the poets, who enjoy an imayō dance performance before they set to writing, the sound of koto plucking in the background.

Spring scenery of Kyokusui no Utage at Jōnangū Shrine.

Set against a gorgeous garden that in spring features irises, azaleas, and wisterias in full bloom, this ritual really feels like a glimpse back in time to the sedate and ritualistic lifestyle of a Heian period noble.

After you enjoy the Kyokusui no Utage, don't miss out on exploring the shrine's expansive gardens, which are composed of five different sections representing various gardening styles throughout Japanese history.

Things to See/Do

  • Shinto Ritual

  • Period Costume

  • Koto

  • Imayo

Schedule

April 29th & November 3rd, 14:00

Access

Jōnangū

Address

〒612-8459 京都府京都市伏見区中島鳥羽離宮町7

TEL 075-623-0846
FAX 075-611-0785
WEB http://www.jonangu.com/

Admission

  • General Admission: Free
  • Garden Admission: ¥600
  • Junior High School, Elementary School: ¥400
  • Persons with Disabilities: ¥300
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Hours

  • General Admission: 09:00  16:30 (last admission 16:00)
    Closed: No closing days

Transportation

  • Kintetsu Line ⇒ Takeda Station ⇒ 15-20 minutes walking
  • Karasuma Subway Line ⇒ Takeda Station ⇒ 15-20 minutes walking
  • Takeda Station ⇒ Exit 4 City Bus 南1, 南2, 南3 (South) ⇒ Jōnangū Higashiguchi Bus Stop
  • Kyoto Station ⇒ Karasuma Exit ⇒ Boarding Area C4 City Bus 19 for Jōnangū