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Gion Matsuri

Held annually from 1-31 July, Gion Matsuri is the festival of Yasaka Shrine (八坂神社) in the Gion district. Unlike Aoi Matsuri, with its focus on femininity, Gion Matsuri is - historically - a very masculine festival. Tracing its history back to the 9th century, the festival initially was held to ward of evil spirits during a pandemic.

The highlight of Gion Matsuri are two float parades (yamaboko junkō) through central Kyōto on 17 and 23 July, and the three evenings (yoiyama) leading up to the parade. On these two days, over twenty large, wooden, and richly decorated floats are pulled in a circle along the avenues of Shijō, Kawaramachi and Oike street while members of each float's neighbourhood perform a ritual music on the float. The festival is "masculine" in the sense that, with the recent exception of certain floats, that only men are allowed to take part in the parade.


Yoiyama 宵山 - The Evenings before the Parade (14-16, 21-23 July)

Float Parade 山鉾巡行 (17 and 24 July)

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