Japan is the home of many famous festivals that take up to a month. Gion Festival is one such. It is one of the most notable festivals in Japan that take place in Kyoto. The festival is held every July in Gion, Kyoto which is where it gets its name. Three remarkable festivals celebrate the old capital and Gion Festival is the first. The other two are Aoi Festival and the Festival of Ages.
The month of July is a busy and cultural time for people in Gion as they get to delve into the amazing aspects of the festival. There are incredible floats, and the crowning of this festival involves a parade, fun, right? Many people all over the world want to experience this festival because of its fascinating authenticity.
Gion Festival is an excellent place for you to plan your vacation. Everyone is welcome, and you are guaranteed the time of your life for a whole month. Kyoto has countless places to visit, foods to enjoy, both traditional, modern and street foods and activities to take part in till late in the night.
How did this festival come about?
The festival began as a ritual of the people to appease the gods because they were experiencing many plagues like fire and floods in 869. Whenever there was an epidemic, the people would hold the festival as a cleansing ceremony. In 970, the people embraced it as an annual event, and the evolution of this festival is evident in the warm burst of culture, pride in the heritage and celebration of Gion as well as the people.
The most anticipated part of the festival
The parades are the most waited upon events of this festival. The spectacle that is the gigantic floats leaves many speechless and is also the purpose for the three night preparations for the procession. The parade of the Gion Festival, yamaboko junko, takes place on the 17th and 24th of July.
During the parades, the people prepare adequately, and you can feel the excitement and expectation as you begin to notice people marching. There are men in floats; street food stalls start to open and serve fantastic meals while the ladies walk by in summer kimonos known as yukata. Yoyoiama, the evenings leading up to the parade, the locals begin to open their private property to people and showcase their family heirlooms and share their cultures.
The most exciting part of the parade as many people say is the corners when the huge floats have to change direction. People crowd these areas to witness the tactic employed in turning the floats. It is a new experience for first-time visitors and a celebration of their heritage for the locals.