Celebrate Kyoto’s hottest summer festival—the legendary Gion Matsuri
The Gion Matsuri is an annual festival that dates back to 869 and is considered the biggest festival in japan. It is held in Kyoto and attracts millions of visitors from all over the world. The festival is a month-long celebration, but the main processions take place on July 17 and July 24.
The origins of the Gion Matsuri can be traced back to 869 when the city of Kyoto was struck by a devastating epidemic. The people of Kyoto believed that the epidemic was caused by the wrath of the gods, so they decided to hold a festival to appease them. The festival was named after the Gion district in Kyoto, which is known for its historic temples and shrines.
During the festival, the streets of Kyoto are transformed into a vibrant and lively atmosphere. Elaborately-decorated multi-ton floats, known as yamaboko, are displayed and then pulled through the streets. These floats are a sight to behold, with their intricate decorations and towering heights. Some of the floats can reach up to 25 meters tall and weigh up to 12 tons.
One of the highlights of the festival is the Yoiyama evening street parties that take place on the three days preceding the parades. These parties are a chance for locals and visitors alike to soak up the festive atmosphere and enjoy traditional street food. It is also a time when the locals don their colorful cotton yukata robes and celebrate with their friends and family.
Another must-see event during the Gion Matsuri is the Byobu Matsuri, also known as the Folding Screen Festival. This event takes place during the Yoiyama days of the festival and showcases the private treasures of the people of Kyoto. Wealthy families in the Shinmachi and Muromachi areas open up their homes to the public and display their collection of screens and kimonos. It is a rare opportunity to see these private treasures up close and learn about the history and culture of Kyoto.
To attend the Gion Matsuri, it is recommended to reserve your accommodation months in advance. The festival attracts a large number of visitors, and hotels and guesthouses tend to fill up quickly. There are several options for getting to Kyoto, including subway, bus, taxi, or even on foot. The main celebrations of the festival are centered around Shijo, Kawaramachi, and Oike streets, so it is relatively easy to find a spot to watch the parade from along the route.
It is important to note that the information on this page may be subject to change due to COVID-19. It is advisable to check for any updates or changes to the festival schedule before making any travel plans.
In conclusion, the Gion Matsuri is a vibrant and exciting festival that celebrates the rich history and culture of Kyoto. It is a must-see event for anyone visiting Japan, as it offers a unique glimpse into the traditions and customs of the country. From the elaborately-decorated floats to the colorful yukata robes worn by the locals, the festival is a feast for the senses. So if you’re planning a trip to Japan in July, make sure to include the Gion Matsuri in your itinerary and experience the magic of this legendary summer festival.
Address And Maps Location:
625 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto-fu