Kyoto Shimbun 2014.4.14 News

Risako Ota as "Saio-dai"
Heroine of Kyoto's Aoi Festival

The Aoi Festival on May 15 is one of Kyoto's three main festivals, and Risako Ota, a sophomore at Kobe University, has been chosen as its 59th Saio-dai, or heroine. The "Aoi-Matsuri Gyoretsu Hozonkai," or Aoi Festival procession conservation group, announced this on April 14.

Ota is the eldest daughter of Toru Ota, the fourth generation owner of the Japanese confectionery "Oimatsu." At university, she is studying Art History and belongs to the drama society. Her special skills are Imayou singing and handicrafts, and her hobbies are history and art appreciation. Her elder brother, Yuma, played the role of "Chigo," or sacred child, on the Naginata Hoko float at the Gion Festival 15 years ago.

Dressed in a cherry-blossom pattern kimono, Ota expressed her aspirations at a press conference in a Kamigyo Ward hotel. "I am honored to take part in this fantastic festival, a holy ritual which has been passed down from the days of Emperor Kinmei. I want to do the job splendidly, and am seeking guidance from many different people to this end."

The Saio-dai is based on Saio, a Heian Period imperial princess who served both the Kamigamo and Shimogamo shrines, and the role was revived in 1956.

(translated by Galileo, Inc.)

Photo= Risako Ota, who has been chosen as the 59th Saio-dai (April 14th, Kyoto Heian Hotel, Kamigyo Ward, Kyoto City)