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A Stunning Matsuri-gi or Festival Coat

Written on March 29, 2010

This beautifully resist-dyed and stencil-dyed festival coat is from the Takayama Matsuri, one of Japan’s most celebrated Shinto festivals.  This garment was worn by a musician who participated in the matsuri or festival and it shows a snarling dragon on around the hem and a lofty Asian “phoenix” or ho-o at the shoulder area, each vibrantly rendered by hand.

Matsuri1The festival from which this coat comes takes place at the Hie Jinja and is called the Sanno Matsuri, or, the “kankakokan” an onomatopoetic word that refers to the ruckus made by the many drums banged during the festival.  The festival is held on April 14-15 of each year.  Takayama is a beautiful city in Japan and is often visited by tourists who are interested in the traditional culture it offers.Matsuri1aThe dragon is remarkably rendered: it really conveys the feeling of movement and a kind of enraged inspiration as he moves with vigor through the heavens.Matsuri1bBy contrast, the phoenix is shown as being lofty and delicate; its wonderfully lavish tail feathers add a bold graphic effect to the coat.Matsuri1dNotice the gradient tones that comprise the face and feathers of the phoenix–just beautiful.Matsuri1cThis matsuri-gi most likely dates to the Taisho Period or the first quarter of the twentieth century.


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  1. Comment by Kit:

    Stunning. I particularly enjoy the feather designs and bold orange/blue color palette.

    April 4, 2010 @ 4:46 pm