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Gion Matsuri Festival


Gion Matsuri Festival


Gion Matsuri festival is held annually in Kyoto throughout July. Not only the parades on the 17th and the 24th, there is more to see during the month. One of them being Gion Bayashi, which is a group of musicians who make unique rhythms at the top of Yama-hoko floats. It consists of gongs, drums and flutes. Two of our kanra staff went to a workshop of gongs in Uji, Kyoto. (There are only a few places that makes gongs in Kyoto)



Nanjo workshop in Uji, Kyoto has been making not only orins (Buddhist bell), but also gongs for the festival for over 180 years. They use Sahari, which is a type of metal that contains well compounded tin and bronze. A casting was processed by only four craftsmen in a very hot work shop like a sauna.
〈process〉 1. Heat the Sahari (well compounded tin and bronze) up to 1300℃
2. Pour the Sahari into a handmade soil mold
3. Remove it from the mold and heat it again
4. Whittle it to adjust the sound and shape



An echoing sound of orin by Nanjo workshop is not a mass production, and it always composes our mind. The sound of orin will be changed depending on a quality of a mold, a casting and a whittling process. Because there is no perfect way to make “a good orin”, they try to remove the negative parts throughout the process.



A casting is done two or three times in a month. They have a routine drink on the days, and we enjoyed it together.



Mr. Kazuya Nanjo (left in the picture) is a following 7th president of Nanjo workshop. He used to be a chef in Kyoto. When he went to the workshop for the first time that is actually his wife’s family business, he was attracted to how amazing a process of orin was, and how good the sound of orin was. It’s been 17 years since he started making orins. As he met many craftsmen in different genres, he started to think about not making Buddhist altar fittings but making sounds instead. He wants us to choose a sound, enjoy it and feel it in our daily life. He recently launched a new brand called LinNe which is a small orin to let us feel more sounds of orin in our daily life. URL



In 2015, Ofune-hoko, literally a big shaped-ship float revived to a Yama-hoko Junko parade after 150 years. The 5th president of Nanjo workshop, a casting engineer, Kazuo found out the fact that a gong of Ofune-hoko that was decorated in an exhibition room, was made by his ancestor. Because of that, he offered a donation and decided to make gongs to revive them. Other than Ofune-hoko, recently they made gongs for Naginata-hoko, Kanko-hoko, Kitakannon-yama and Minamikannon-yama. Mr.Kazuya Nanjo goes to Gion Matsuri festival every year, and he can recognize a sound of orin that he made. The more we beat a gong, the softer it will be and the more it increases the charm. I was impressed with his idea that he would like us to choose not an orin, but a sound. He wants us to choose our own favourite sound. He has been trying to make some places to feel a sound of orin in our daily life.



We borrowed one of their orins, and you can try to beat it in the lounge on the 1st floor. Please enjoy it throughout July! We would like to introduce you to a tradition of Gion Matsuri festival through a sound of gongs.

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