Gion Matsuri: Kyoto’s famed month-long festival

07 Jul 2017 in Discover Japan

All July, Kyoto goes into festival mode! With giant floats, great food and sprawling street parties, Gion Matsuri is an event to put on your wish list.

gion-matsuri-kyoto

The 1,100-year-old Gion Matsuri is one of Japan’s most famous and popular festivals – and with reason. During the entire month of July, the Gion area of Kyoto transforms into a site of celebration, hosting events ranging from the impressive to the inspiring.

Gion Matsuri in Kyoto

The centrepiece of the festival is Yamaboko Junko, a grand procession of lavishly-decorated floats originally intended to appease the Gods and avert epidemics.

There are two types of float: the smaller and more numerous yama and the gigantic hoko, which are up to 25 metres tall, can weigh 12 tons and have wheels the size of a person! There’s no motor, so, as you can imagine, it takes considerable manpower to push the hoko along the 2-mile route.

Geigi in Kyoto

On several evenings leading up to the parade, Kyoto’s centre is closed to traffic and transformed into a big street party. Depending on the date, these nights are known as yoiyama, yoiyoiyama or yoiyoiyoiyama – but the end result is always the same: a festive atmosphere with people dressed in yukatas, great street food, drink and music.

You’ll also have an opportunity to visit private residences, as many owners open up their homes to the public in what is known as Byobu Matsuri or Folding Screen Festival. It’s a great chance to take a peek inside a traditional Gion house and admire the family’s heirlooms.

HOSHINOYA Kyoto

Where to stay during the festival? At HOSHINOYA Kyoto, you’ll be able to lay back and relax with views of the river and forests – the perfect contrast after the buzz of Gion Matsuri!

HOSHINOYA Kyoto

Photo credits:

Patrick Vierthaler / CC BY-NC-ND
Chi (in Oz) / CC BY-NC-ND
Hansel and Regrettal / CC BY-NC-ND

Would you like to find out more? Subscribe to our mailing list!

* indicates required




OTHER EXPERIENCES

japanese-massage

Japanese tips to keep your New Year’s resolutions

03 Jan 2018 in Discover Japan

Made New Year’s resolutions? Make sure you keep them with some Japanese-inspired help! Read more

tsurushi-hina-suspended-dolls-1500x1000

Japanese dolls for bringing good luck for newborn children

17 Jun 2016 in Discover Japan

Discover the secrets of this very poetic Japanese tradition : the Hina No Tsurushi Kazari, small handmade dolls which are passed on from mother to daughter to bring good luck. Read more

rocks

Usuki: samurai & stone Buddhas

24 Aug 2018 in Discover Japan

Discover the historical treasures of this surprising coastal town in Kyushu. Read more

OTHER EXPERIENCES

nikko-park

4 estival festivals near Nikko

03 Aug 2018 in Discover Japan

Staying in Nikko or Kinugawa this summer? Find the right festival for you! Read more

original-moss-icecream-1

The fascinating powers of Japanese moss

18 Aug 2016 in Discover Japan

Moss is a plant organism with fascinating properties, but do you know why Japanese people have so much respect for it? Read more

Sanshin instrument

Sanshin, the banjo from Okinawa

07 Oct 2016 in Discover Japan

Have you ever heard about sanshin, this unique traditional Japanese 3 strings banjo ? Read more

most popular articles