Gion Matsuri Exclusive Items
However, most people don’t know that there are more ways to enjoy this festival than just eating street food and watching the float procession.
That is namely, getting your hands on all of the Gion Matsuri exclusive items. In this part of our feature on Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri festival, we will look at Gion Matsuri exclusive “Goshuin” seals, “Chimaki” rice dumplings and some things to watch out for when collecting them.
Moreover, there are Goshuin that can only be collected by going to the different floats during Gion Matsuri’s two parts, the early Saki Matsuri, and the later Ato Matsuri!
Each float features original, beautiful seals and apparently there are even people who go around to each float just for the sake of getting their hands on the seals.
Even if this was your first time hearing of them or you were never interested in them, if you’re making your way to Gion Matsuri, then why not pick up some of the seals for yourself?
At Gion Matsuri, there are no essential rules when it comes to collecting the Goshuin seals. You can use your own seal book, or even just a notebook that you are particularly fond of, there are no limitations. However, I’m sure there are some of you out there who are thinking, “well if I’m going to be getting the exclusive Gion Matsuri seals, then I want to make sure they’re kept in the best shape possible.”
For anyone thinking that, I would like to recommend a Goshuincho, or seal book. As the name suggests, these seal books are for collecting the Goshuin seals and are made of comparatively strong washi paper, so they are especially good at not letting the ink smudge. Also, there are Gion Matsuri exclusive seal books that you can only get during the festival too! They are sold at each float, so definitely check them out! This is also the perfect opportunity for anyone who doesn’t have a seal book yet to pick one up!
The different floats usually give out their Goshuin seals from 10 AM to 10 PM. Our recommended time for seal collecting is 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM. For more popular seals you may need to wait in line, and waiting in line for a long time in the hot sun is not very nice. We recommend going from late afternoon to early evening when the weather cooled down slightly.
The money that is given when receiving one of the Goshuin seals is called a Shinokin or contribution. The Goshuin seals at Gion Matsuri usually range from 0 yen to 300 yen. Some floats require a contribution, while others will say“Pay as much as you would like. ”When seal collecting, it is also a good idea to carry around coins (especially 100 yen coins) instead of cash notes.
As mentioned above, chimaki are charms that protect from disease and disaster, so by displaying them, it is believed that your home will be protected diseases and disasters.
That is why they are usually hung on the gates or eaves of entrance ways. For those who might have trouble hanging them on their door or gate, try sticking a hook to the door and displaying the chimaki that way. As the chimaki are considered sacred, it is best not to use anything like a pin or a nail which would directly stick the chimaki on. The chimaki are believed to be most effective when displayed places people often move through.