Gion Matsuri (祇園祭) is one of the most famous festivals in Japan, and it is celebrated every year in the city of Kyoto. The festival, which is commonly referred to as the “Festival of the Ages”, dates back to the year 869 and is held annually from 1st July to 31st July.

Gion Matsuri is a celebration of Japanese history and culture, and it’s known for its extravagant parades and festivities.

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History of Gion Massuri

Yasaka-no-Kami (Photo by Ronny Siegel)

Gion Matsuri is one of the oldest festivals in Japan, with origins dating back to the Heian period (794-1185). During this time, the festival was a religious event to appease the gods and bring peace and prosperity to the city of Kyoto. The festival has evolved over time, and today it is celebrated as a way to honor the city’s patron deity, Yasaka-no-Kami.

Major Events in Gion Massuri

On July 17th, the main event of Gion Matsuri takes place. This event, known as Yamaboko Junkō, sees two large, elaborately decorated floats called Yamaboko, pulled through the streets of Kyoto. These floats are made of wood and paper and are adorned with intricate carvings and decorations, including figures of gods and warriors. As the floats pass, musicians perform on the floats and people can be seen waving and dancing in the streets. Many of the participants in the parade wear traditional Japanese clothing, such as kimonos.

The floats are also accompanied by hoko, which are tall, thin poles that are carried on the shoulders of many men who are dressed in white. The hoko are decorated with banners and bell-like decorations that represent the gods. As the parade progresses, it passes by the old imperial palace, where it is met with cheers from the crowds of onlookers.

At the end of Yamaboko Junkō, the floats are taken to the banks of the Kamo River, where they are burned to symbolize the end of the festivities. The burning of the floats occurs on the 25th day of the festival, and after this, Gion Matsuri is considered to be over.

Bottom Line

Gion Matsuri is a unique and exciting festival that offers a glimpse into the customs and traditions of Japan. If you’re planning a trip to Japan, make sure to plan your dates carefully so that you can take part in this festival. You won’t regret it!

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