Virtual walking tour of Gion Matsuri 2011, Yoiyama from Kyoto, Japan on Sat, July 16, 2011. Gion Matsuri is considered as the one of the top 3 festival of Japan.
Gion Matsuri is the festival of Yasaka Shrine originated in A.D. 863. People were suffereing from plague and pestilence, and they thought they needed pray gods to calm them down.
Avg 32 districts belong to Yasaka Shrine and created and maintain 9 "Hoko floats" and 23 "Yama floats". Hoko is bigger and more geougous float than Yama.
Year after year, people have added various decorations their floats. Gion Matsuri is sometime considered as moving museum. (The latest trend if to use LED lights for floats.)
Gion Matsuri is actually 1 month long festival. But its highlight of Gion Matsuri is Yoiyama from July 14-16, and Parade of yama & hoko floats on July 17 every year.
Yoiyama (宵山) is "pre-party" of the parade. Each district display their Hoko or Yama float in their districts to perform and treat the guests. All main streets around Karasuma, Kyoto became promenade temporarily. There will be full of street shops.
Many Japanese people enjoy Yoiyama on July 16 than the parade.
The main event of Gion Matsuri is on July 17. Parade of Yoiyama Yamahoko (宵山・山鉾巡行). The big and heavy Hoko and Yama floats move around Karasuma Street to display and express the respect to Gods.
The climax event of Gion Matsuri is Mikoshi parade from Yasaka Shrine. Mikoshi is the portable shinto shrine. Besides slow moving big floats, mikoshi is more agressive ritual. The group of people carry mikoshi and run around the street.
Gion Matsuri is actually 1 month long festival. There are more history behind it. We'll provide more in-depth coverage of Giion Matsuri year after year.
Photos by Novin (Nobuko Nakamoto) & Yuta Imada