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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