Gion Matsuri Yoi-yama
Prior to the parade of floats, the highlight of the Gion Festival, the "yama" and "hoko"(double-decked floats) floats are put together and decorated with beautiful tapestries and material. In the evening, at various corners of the so-called "Yamahoko-machi", lanterns lihgt up these floats for the enjoyment of passerby. The air of festivity is further heightened by the stalls which line the streets. In particular, the streets where the "hoko" are on display are worth a visit as family treasures such as screens and works of calligraphy are taken out of storage and placed on view. This is so much a part of the Gion Festival that another name for the festival is "Byobu Matsuri" or Screen Festival.
Entire area of Yamahoko-machi
Shijo Station of the Kyoto Subway Line,
of the Hankyu Kyoto Line.
The Gion Feitival Parade in 2007 (July, 17)
Gion Matsuri Yamahoko Junko
Gion Festival dates back to 869 (early Heian Period). At the time, a virulent epidemic was decimating the people of Kyoto and in order to appease the god of Yasaka Shrine (then called Gion Shrine) prayers were offered and 66 "hoko" (halberds) representing each province of Japan ware presented to the god.The pulling of the "yama" and "hoko" floats through the streets of Kyoto, the highlight of the festival, is said to have begun in the Muromachi Period (14th to 16th century). The Gion Festival is a month-long festival beginning on July 1st when "kippu-iri" or the placing of the names of the "yama"and "hoko" into a box takes place. The next day, the names are drawn to decide the order in which the floats should be placed for the parade.
On the 17th, the parade departs from Shijo-Karasuma with the Naginata-boko heading the line of gorgeously decorated floats. The parade proceeds west along Shijo Street making a stop at Shijo-sakai-mach, where the Mayor of Kyoto City checks that the floats are in the order of the drawing held on the 2nd. Just before Shijo-Fuya-cho, the "Chigo" or boy who represents the Shinto deities, cuts the "shimenawa" or sacred rope. The route of the parade is along Shijo-dori, Kawaramachi-dori, Oike-dori, and Shinmachi-dori. At each corner, excitemnet heightens as the huge, 12-ton "hoko" are pulled and pushed over green bamboo which have been split and watered down to enable the "hoko"to maneuver the corners.
Kyoto-shi Kankou Kyokai (Kyoto City Tourist
Association 075- 752-0225)
The parade can be enjoyed at any point
along the parade route.