All about the Gion Festival

Tonight’s the night!  The evening before the big parade, known as Yoiyama, is happening in downtown Kyoto tonight when people throng around the massive festival floats, with their musicians and displays. It’s a great communal festivity, marking the highpoint of the month-long rituals that make up Gion Matsuri, and it’s one of Green Shinto’s favourites.

Previous reports have featured an illustrated overview (see here); history and the floats (see here); a focus on the eve of the parade (see here); the actual July 17th parade (see here); a list of the month long activities (see here); a talk about the festival by Catherine Pawsarat (see here); the Hindu background of the deity, Gozu Tenno (see here); a piece on phallicism in the festival (see here); the Western input in terms of tapestries (see here); for the removal of the spirit bodies into the mikoshi (see here); the Kanko sai, when mikoshi return on July 24 (see here); reinstalled ‘Ato Matsuri’ (later parade on July 24) with its own Yoiyama (evening before) (see here).

The dragon’s head sits proudly aboard the recently reintroduced Ofune float. As deities of water, the dragon is well placed to offer protection to the Gion Festival’s final float in the procession.

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All about the Gion Festival — 2 Comments

  1. It’s great to see this ship shaped float which has a dragon’s deity. I really appreciate this Gion festival every year and praying for everyone’s health to those different deities which come from Yasaka shrine . After we had a terrible plague which killed so many people in Kyoto , people decided to have a special Gion festival to pray for their health over the summer at Yasaka shrine. I hope many people read your posts and get to know more about this biggest and oldest summer festival in Japan ….

    • Thank you Ryoko, and I’m delighted that you are a fan of Gion Festival, just as I am. No matter how many times I attend, there’s always something new to learn and experience…