Daimyo Gyoretsu

Daimyo Gyoretsu

Third weekend in August
The Daimyo Gyoretsu is the largest parade of the year in Yuzawa, Japan. It commemorates the annual journey of the daimyo, or feudal lord, to Edo (present-day Tokyo) during the Tokugawa period (1600-1868). In order to suppress the possibility of unrest, the Edo shogun, or supreme military ruler, would compel the daimyo from all over Japan to make periodic visits to the capital city. Because the daimyo had to be accompanied by a large entourage, these visits were hugely expensive, leaving them with little money left over for plotting a revolution.
The contemporary Daimyo Gyoretsu consists of a lord's parade and a mikoshi parade—mikoshi being the elaborately decorated portable shrines to which the gods were believed to descend during the festivals held in their honor. In addition to the 200 costumed figures who march in these two sections of the parade, there are also floats holding dioramas based on Japanese history and mythology. The tail end of the parade consists of a series of trucks decorated with lanterns that carry dancers, kids, and floats with papier-mâchÉ statues. It is far less formal than what precedes it, and the participants usually wear shorts and brightly colored happi coats (traditional Japanese short jackets).
The parade starts at 8:00 in the morning and lasts about five hours, although there is a two-hour break at midday. The route varies slightly from year to year, depending on which of Yuzawa's neighborhoods is in charge of running the parade. Other Japanese cities hold similar Daimyo Gyoretsu festivals, including Hakone on November 3 and Sanjo on May 15-16.
CONTACTS:
Japan National Tourist Organization
1 Rockefeller Pl., Ste. 1250
New York, NY 10020
212-757-5640; fax: 212-307-6754
www.japantravelinfo.com
SOURCES:
JapanFest-1965, pp. 152-204
Matsuri-1993, p. 54