Gion Festival

Date: 1-31 July

This festival, one of the three largest in Japan, along with the Kanda Festival in Tokyo and the Tenjin Festival in Osaka, lasts for almost a month.

With the ceremonial Mikoshiarai (washing of the portable shrines) on the 10th through to the Kankou Festival on the 24th as its centerpiece, it spreads over the whole of Kyoto’s Shijo-dori. This festival began approximately 1100 years ago when, as a prayer for the end of plague, a total of 66 pikes (one for each of the provinces) were made and sent with portable shrines to Shinsen-en.

From the beginning of the modern era, with textile workers based in Nishijin and merchants from Nakagyo gaining power, common culture reached a peak. With their expertise, economic power and virtuous spirit, the dazzling Yamaboko floats were perfected in the Edo era, and may still be seen today.
From the 13th to the 16th of July, the ‘kon-chiki-chin‘ Gion Rhythm (Gion-bayashi) is played in each town where the pikes are made, and the festival reaches its peak on the 17th, with the Yamaboko Float Parade (Yamaboko Jyunkou).