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Ashikari Yama is based on a noh theater play by the 14th-15th century genius actor and noh playwright Zeami (pron. “Zay-ah-mi’), Japan’s answer to Shakespeare. It’s known that Zeami attended the Gion Festival, and some say that noh theater used to be performed on the Gion Festival floats before the actors were replaced with sacred statues.
The Abura Tenjin float features a small Shinto shrine dedicated to the 9th-century courtly scholar Sugawara Michizane. Inside the shrine is a statue of him that reportedly belonged to a noble family that lived in the float’s neighborhood in the Heian Period (794-1185).
Hashi Benkei Yama depicts a famous scene in Japanese and Kyoto history, when the gigantic warrior monk Benkei challenged the diminutive but superhuman youth Ushiwakamaru on Kyoto’s Gojō Bridge, located about a mile from this float.
Tokusa Yama features the central figure from a noh play and chant, “Tokusa,” by the 14th-century genius Japanese playwright and philosopher Zeami.