A few days ago, I attended the annual Aoi Matsuri in Kyoto City. The Kyoto Shimbun carried an article on this years Saiō-Dai Lady (59th). She is Miss Risako Ota, a sophomore at Kobe University. Ota san is the eldest daughter of Toru Ota, the fourth generation owner of the Japanese confectionery "Oimatsu." In the festival’s parade, ladies dressed in the ceremonial court robes and men in traditional costumes ride on ox carriages decorated with wisteria leaves. There are 36 horses, 4 oxen, 2 ox carriages, 1 mikoshi ,and over 500 people forming the Imperial procession. Everything in the parade is adorned with the hollyhock leaf crest, also called "aoi" – thus the name of the festival.
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I was born in Antwerp, Belgium, and enjoyed my teenage years during the peak of the "Flower Power Hippie" generation. I hitchhiked through Europe, living on a beach south of Agadir, Morocco for some time to learn English. Aside from Japan, I have lived in Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, and Singapore, just to name a few. I love baking things such as bread, pies, and fruit cakes, and am an avid Blues lover; some of my favorite artists are B.B. King, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. I enjoy a good movie with a glass of wine or a Belgian Trappist and some Rochefort blue cheese. Since September 2012 I have been an honorary member of the " Kyoto Guide Club". I have been living in Japan for almost 25 years; 5 years in Tokyo, and then 20 years here, in Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan. My aim is to provide information about this extraordinary city to the future traveler. If you have any questions related to Kyoto or Nara, don't hesitate to drop me a line.