Kyoto Shimbun 2013.4.15 News

Maiko Nagase Selected as Aoi Festival Heroine
The 58th Saio-dai Hopes to "Serve Wholeheartedly"

Maiko Nagase from Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, was selected as the 58th "Saio-dai," or heroine of the Aoi Festival, one of the three major Kyoto festivals, which is held on May 15. It was announced by the "Aoi-Matsuri Gyoretsu Hozonkai," or Aoi Festival procession conservation group, on April 15. She is a third year student at University of the Sacred Heart in Tokyo, who is now living in Shibuya Ward, Tokyo.

Maiko is the oldest daughter of Takamitsu Nagase and Itsumi Nagase. Her father runs Kyoraku Co., Ltd, which manufactures and distributes plastic products. She enjoys cooking and playing golf, tennis, and the flute in her free time. Maiko faced the press conference dressed in a kimono which her grandmother, Hiroko, selected for her. "I would like to serve the role wholeheartedly, with gratitude. My wish is to become an attractive Saio-dai, always having dignity and a smile," said Maiko, when asked about her hopes.

The press conference was held in Kyoto Heian Hotel in Kamigyo Ward, the site of a residence of Maiko's grandfather, Shunzo Nagase, in the 1930s. The Japanese garden at the time is said to remain the same as it was then. "If my father were still alive, he would be more pleased than anyone to have it announced here that my daughter will serve as the Saio-dai," said Maiko's father, Takamitsu.

The Saio-dai is the heroine of the Aoi Festival, who serves at religious rites of the festival for the Saio, or an Imperial Princess, who served the Kamigamo and Shimogamo Shrines in the Heian Period. The role was revived in 1956 as Saio-dai, long after being abolished in the early Kamakura Period.

(translated by Galileo, Inc.)

Photo= This year's Saio-dai, Maiko Nagase, smiles after being selected (April 15, Kyoto Heian Hotel, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto)