Kyoto Shimbun 2014.1.15 News

Elegantly Finished Float Cabin
Towards Revival of Gion Festival's O-Fune Hoko

"Yakata," or a cabinet made of Japanese cypress on the deck of the Gion Festival's O-Fune Hoko float, was completely reconstructed after the float's destruction by fire at the end of Edo Period. "Shijocho Ofunehoko Hozonkai," or the O-fune float's conservation group, located in Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, displayed the yakata in the Kyoto-Yodobashi building, in the same ward, on January 15. Having completed the minimum requirements to join the procession, the huge float will be back on the Kyoto streets 150 years after its destruction. Its comeback will be on July 24, in the "Ato-matsuri," or the latter festival procession, which is being revived after a hiatus of 49 years.

The finished yakata consists of two parts. The main part with a large gabled roof is 3.4 meters high, 3.25 meters in width and 4.5 meters in length. The other part, called "Tomo-yakata," or aft house set up on the rear of the float, is decorated with "Katomado," or a Zen-style, bell-shaped window, and measures 2.2 meters high, 1.9 meters in width and 1.6 meters in length.

Kyoto Lions Club (LC) made a donation as its 60th anniversary project. "Hanedashi Koran," or railings for the accompanying musicians seated on the float, will be finished later.

The entire float measures 7.47 meters long, 3.25 meters wide and 6.35 meters high. It is larger than the O-Fune Hoko float. Although it has already cost approximately 60,000,000 yen, including contributions, a large sum of funds are still necessary to lacquer and gild the float, and make ornamental metal fittings and a divine statue.

Hisanori Kongo, president of Kyoto LC, grew up in the district of Kikusui Hoko float, which was restored after World War II. He recollected, saying, "It took decades to restore Kikusui Hoko, too." Yonezo Matsui, the director of the O-Fune Hoko conservation group, said, "The wooden parts will remain unpainted for the time being, but we hope to complete the float over the years." The display lasts until March 31, free of charge.

O-Fune Hoko is one of the three floats that were burnt down at the end of samurai era and have yet to be restored. In 2012 and 2013, it participated in the Festival, carrying "karabitsu," or a kind of legged, covered chest that carries an enshrine, divine mask.

(translated by Galileo, Inc.)

Photo= O-Fune Hoko is displayed with its completed yakata and tomo-yakata attached to its trunk (on January 15, Kyoto-Yodobashi building, Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto)