Jōmyō Yama

A Tribute to Courage in Battle

jomyo yama sacred statues gion festival procession kyoto japan

Jōmyō Yama records an astonishing moment in Japanese martial history.

Jōmyō Yama depicts two renowned warrior monks, Tsutsui Jōmyō and Ichirai Hōshi, in a famous battle from the 12th-century Genpei War between the Minamoto and Heike clans.

The Uji Bridge was a strategic crossing on the way to Kyoto. In the Battle of Uji, they were defending the Minamoto clan from oncoming Heike samurai. Records note that Jōmyō fought with bow and arrow, halberd (warrior monks’ signature weapon), sword and dagger, and continued fighting even as he was shot through with over 60 arrows.

Meanwhile, Ichirai was trapped behind the crush of fighters, away from the action. In an incredible combined act of courage, determination and acrobatic prowess, his solution was to catapult over the head of Jōmyō in front of him, to get to the front lines.

And, in a quintessentially Japanese style, it’s said that he asked pardon for his bad manners as he leapt. Jōmyō Yama depicts this incredible scene.

jomyo yama treasure display offerings preparation kimono men gion festival kyoto japan

Formally preparing the Shintō offerings to the sacred statues at Jōmyō Yama’s treasure display.

During the July 24th procession, you can see how the sacred statues of Ichirai and Jōmyō tremble with the float’s movement. The sculptures must have been an incredibly remarkable innovation for their time. The Jōmyō statue’s armor, from 14th-16th century, is an Important Cultural Property.

Note among the float’s tapestries, reproductions of famous paintings of the Uji Bridge.

This chōnai still boasts numerous traditional residences and a family neighborhood feeling.


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