The diversion of the Shinano River at Okozu near Bunsui in Niigata prefecture is lined with rows of cherry blossom trees. Each spring their beautiful pink flowers cover the area creating a popular location for locals to gather and enjoy the cherry blossoms.
The Bunsui Oiran Dochu Parade takes place here on the 3rd Sunday of April. Three Oiran courtesans in dazzling Edo-period costumes are accompanied by 70 followers as they parade gracefully between the rows of cherry blossom trees along the river.
The three courtesans are selected from a nation-wide competition. They wear 15cm-high Geta sandals and up to 30kg of traditional costume including wig, gowns and jewellery. The restrictive sandals and costume mean the Oiran walk with a distinctive gait through which spectators witness the inner strength behind their graceful beauty.
The event originated as a procession of locals in fancy costumes to entertain visitors coming to view the cherry blossoms. Travel back in time to the Edo period at this festival and enjoy the dual beauties of the cherry blossoms in full bloom and the flamboyant procession of courtesans!