Kyoto Shimbun 2014.6.4 News

Masato Hirai as Chigo for Naginata Hoko
Yoshiki Ishida and Yoshiharu Inoue as Kamuro

On June 4, the children who will play the roles of "Chigo," or a sacred child, and "Kamuro," or his assistant, were announced by the "Naginata Hoko Hozonkai," the Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, based preservation group of the Gion Festival Naginata Hoko float. They will be on the Naginata Hoko float which leads the Yamahoko procession of the Gion Festival held on July 17.

The Chigo for 2014 is 9-year-old Masato Hirai from Sakyo Ward, a fourth grader at Kyoto Primary School attached to Kyoto University of Education. He is the eldest son of Seiichi Hirai, president of Nishiri, a pickled vegetables company in Kyoto. Masato climbed up on the Naginata Hoko float when he went with his family on the eve of the Yamahoko procession. He animatedly said, "I want to feel the float really moving. I am looking forward to cutting the "shimenawa," or sacred rope in the procession."

One of the two Kamuro is 10-year-old Yoshiki Ishida from Nakagyo Ward, a fifth grader at Goshominami Elementary School and the second son of Koji Ishida, the president of a confectionary firm, The other is Yoshiharu Inoue from Sakyo Ward, a 10-year-old fifth grader at Kyoto Primary School attached to Kyoto University of Education and the eldest son of Shigeki Inoue, the president of a printing company. Both boys spoke cheerfully, and Yoshiki said, "I will steadily support Masato." Yoshiharu said, "I will do my best without getting too nervous about my role."

The three children will take part in the procession after participating in other rites such as "Osendo-no-Gi" held on July 1.

(translated by Galileo, Inc.)

Photo= The Chigo for the Naginata Hoko float, Masato Hirai (center), and the Kamuro, his assistants, Yoshiki Ishida (right) and Yoshiharu Inoue (left).