Apr. 27, 2020 UPDATE
Story & Recommendation
The biggest summer festival in Kyoto for one whole month
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). ▼Click here for Writer's Blog http://sharing-kyoto.com/Blog/b_Gion_Matsuri_Festival/
This event will be held on July 24th at 10am till noon in front of Yasaka Shrine. Junko means “parade” and we can see the large umbrellas and hats decorated with flowers during the Hanagasa Junko. Participants, who performe dances and other types of art as an offering to deities in Yasaka Shrine, go to the streets of Kyoto to be greeted by general public (referred to Matsuri Times).
In the evening of July 24th, many people join to carry the three mikoshi from Otabisho, the trip places, back to Yasaka Shrine. When mikoshi arrive at the shrine, special prayers will be held to welcome the spirits back to their main ''home''. This ceremony ends around midnight (Referred to Kyoto Visitor’s Guide and Yasaka Shrine Official Website).
Omukae Chochin means welcoming lanterns. Men wearing formal kimono depart from Yasaka Shrine at 16:30 on July 10th. They escort children dressed up in gorgeous traditional outfits and head west along Shijo to Kawaramachi. Their role is to welcome the mikoshi portable shrines carried out of Yasaka Shrine later in the evening (referred to Kyoto Visitor’s Guide).
At evening on July 17th, the shrine deities that preside over the festival are transported in three special mikoshi (portable shrine) from Yasaka Shrine to the Otabisho. More than 1,000 people will participate in this important procession (referred to Kyoto Visitor’s Guide).