European Association for Japanese Studies

祭りに生きる・京都の鉾差し (Hokosashi(The Kenhoko bearers) of Kyoto)

2020 | 61’ | Japan
OMORI Yasuhiro

The kenhoko, originally a spear-like weapon, combines elements of exorcising spirits and welcoming the deity. The sword(ken) at the tip of a kenhoko has a fleur-de-lis-shaped design. The earliest kenhoko were made of gilt-coated copper, however brass that could flex and then return to its original form was increasingly used in the Edo Period. The role of the kenhoko is to precede a portable shrine and purify the route ahead. Kenhoko tend to be owned by members of the local community, including shrine parishioners, rather than owned by the shrines. Kenhoko ceremonies are performed by recruiting people from other regions to participate in the festival procession, and each local community has its own rites. Someone who has the skill to raise and carry a kenhoko, which is a fleur-de-lis shaped designed sword attached to a long heavy pole, is called a hokosashi (hoko-bearer). Many hoko-bearers live in the area surrounding the Kyoto Basin. Mr. Fujita Osamu, who is featured in this film, is a pillar of the hoko-bearer community and comes from an old family of gardeners. He organizes the performers at the request of various festivals in Kyoto, and carries kenhoko as a hoko-bearer in the procession.