Gion Matsuri is a magnificent and splendid festival that has been held by Yasaka Shrine for the past one thousand one hundred years. It began in AD 869 when the plague raged through not only Kyoto but all of Japan. Therefore, the people of Kyoto attempted to appease the god of Gion and pray for deliverance from the disaster by building 66 Hoko, festival decorative floats, in Shinsen-en, a vast garden in Heian-kyo, and carried around a portable shrine. The number 66 represents the number of Japanese provinces in those days. The month-long Gion Matsuri begins on July 1st and ends on July 31st. During this one-month period, various religious services and events are unfolded (referred to Yasaka Shrine Official Website).
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