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Gion Matsuri

July 1, 2018 - July 31, 2018

The Gion Matsuri, or ‘Gion-san,’ is a festival of splendid pageant of some 30 floats called yamaboko proceeding along the main streets of Kyoto. This festival is believed to have started 1,100 years ago when floats were made and paraded in the town to appease the deity of plague and illnesses. During the Yamaboko junko parade, children wearing make-up and musicians playing the flute, drums and bells are seated on the second level of the floats. A star of the parade itself is ‘chigo’, a local boy who rides the main yamaboko wearing Shinto robes and a golden phoenix crown. Leading up to the Yamaboko Junko, the Yoiyama festival allows attendees to get up close and personal with the parade’s floats.

Other small festivals occur almost daily during Gion-san. During Byobu Matsuri (Folding Screen Festival), residents open up their homes to visitors. It’s like a citywide house party where everyone is invited. You must also check out the Kencha Matsuri (Tea Ceremony Festival). The art of this custom is the Zen master class of culinary traditions. Another charming choice: Hanagasa Junko, also known as the Flower Umbrella or Hat Procession. Here, amazing bouquets of flowers are crafted into beautiful and artistic headwear displays. Don’t forget your camera and head to the start of the parade to get good shots.

Festival Dates

Opening: July 1

Omukae Chochin (welcoming lanterns ceremony): July 10

Mikoshi Arai (mikoshi purification): July 10 & 28

Yoiyama festival: July 14-16

Byobu Matsuri (folding screen festival): July 14-16

Kencha Matsuri (tea ceremony festival): July 16

Yamaboko Junko parade: July 17

Hanagasa Junko (flower umbrella procession): July 24

Kyogen Performance: July 25

Nagoshi-sai (Summer purification ceremony and closing): July 31




Author: Desk


July 1, 2018
July 31, 2018
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Kyoto, Japan