The Kyoto Gion Festival is one of the most spectacular events in Japan, and one of the oldest festivals in the country. Dating back to 869, the Gion Festival is held every year in the month of July, with festivities occurring throughout the entire month. 

The Origin of Kyoto Gion Festival

The Kyoto Gion Festival has been celebrated for more than 1,000 years and is believed to have originated in 869 CE during the Heian period. Originally, the festival was a time to honor the gods by displaying large floats adorned with beautiful carvings, decorations, and music. Over time, the festival has evolved to include a variety of activities, including traditional performances, parades, and processions.

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Highlights of Kyoto Gion Festival

(Source: tourouyama.jp)

During the festival, there are many other events, such as parades, fireworks, and traditional music performances. There are also many food stalls set up throughout the area, selling snacks and refreshments to the participants and spectators. The festival is a great way to experience traditional Japanese culture. It is also a great way to experience the city of Kyoto, as the festival takes place throughout the city’s streets and alleys, and provides a great opportunity to explore the city’s history and culture.



Yamaboko Procession

(Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata)

The main attractions of the festival are the massive and colorful floats, called Yamaboko, which are carried through the streets throughout the month. The floats are adorned with intricate decorations such as paper lanterns, fabric, and dolls, and some of the floats are even centuries old. The floats are usually accompanied by men in traditional Japanese clothes, and sometimes musicians.


Traditional Performances

(Source: gionfestival.org)

Traditional performances, such as the shamisen and taiko drumming, are also a popular feature of the Kyoto Gion Festival. These performances take place in the streets and on the floats, and feature traditional Japanese instruments and songs.


Fireworks Display

On the last night of the festival, a spectacular fireworks display is held in the sky above Kyoto. This event draws large crowds of spectators, and is a must-see for any visitor to Kyoto.


How to get to Kyoto Gion Festival

Visiting central Kyoto to experience the Kyoto Gion Festival is easy and convenient. You can take the subway, bus, taxi or walk to get to the main celebrations taking place along Shijo, Kawaramachi and Oike streets.


Subway

To get to Shijo Street, take the Tozai Subway Line to Shijo Station, for Kawaramachi Street take the Karasuma Subway Line to Kyoto-Kawaramachi Station, and for Oike Street take the Tozai Subway Line to Oike Station. This is an ideal way to explore the city and take in the festivities, making your visit to Kyoto unforgettable!

Travelers heading to Kyoto should purchase the Suica IC Card to make their travels more convenient. The card can be used on JR East trains, subway lines, and buses, and can also be used for purchases in vending machines and select restaurants. The card is sure to make your experience in Kyoto unforgettable!


How to join Kyoto Gion Festival

Experience the Kyoto Gion Festival in comfort and style by staying at one of the city’s top hotels. Enjoy the convenience of being close to the festivities, as well as the luxury amenities that come with staying at a premier accommodation.

Stay at Hotel The Celestine Kyoto Gion for the perfect Gion Festival experience! Located close to JR/subway Kyoto Station and a mere 12 minutes walk from Kyoto Kawaramachi Station, it is well-positioned for easy access to the festivities.


(Source: Hotel The Celestine Kyoto Gion)

You can also enjoy Japanese cuisine such as Kyoto beef tempura burger and Kyoto Banzai cuisine at Hotel. It is one of the perfect place to stay for your Gion Festival experience!


Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a unique experience in Japan, the Kyoto Gion Festival is definitely something to add to your travel itinerary. The month-long festivities are something that you won’t want to miss, and will provide you with an unforgettable experience in Japan.


FAQ

When is the Kyoto Gion Festival held?

The Kyoto Gion Festival is typically held during the month of July each year.

What activities take place during the Kyoto Gion Festival?

During the festival, there are many activities, such as parades, fireworks, traditional music performances, and food stalls.

What are the floats during the Kyoto Gion Festival called?

The floats during the festival are called Yamaboko.

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