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Gion Matsuri Festival 2016

Gion Matsuri Festival
July 1 (Fri.) - 31 (Sun.)
Gion Matsuri Festival is one of Japan's three largest festivals which belong to Yasaka Shrine. Having extremely long history, and the festival lasts for about a month-long, and its gorgeousness and large scale size are all well recognized throughout Japan. Gion Matsuri Festival has been developed with life of Kyoto people. Gion Festival is the representative of Japan's summer festival.
The origin of the festival began about 1,100 years ago. When bad plaque spread around the capital, people pray for getting rid of the illness by establishing 66 floats which is the same number of the provinces in Japan in those days.
The best highlight of the festival is the Yama Hoko Junko grand procession. From 2014, for the first time in almost half a century, the Preceding Festival (Saki Matsuri) procession on 17th, and Latter Festival (Ato Matsuri) procession on 24th were held. 29 floats out of 33 are designated as the important intangible cultural properties. People compete to decorate the float with beautiful tapestry, carpet and fabrics. This magnificent scene is often called as a "moving museum."

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Gion Matsuri Festival Parade Viewing Seat tickets(reserved seating with a pamphlet),
3,180yen for July 17th or 24th
To view this Gion Matsuri Festival,especially its gorgeous Yama Hoko procession in a relaxed manner,the Gion Matsuri Festival parade viewing seat tickets are available.
Venue : Oike Street

July 17th; Saki-Matsuri Former Festival Parade Course (pdf)

July 24th; Ato-Matsuri Latter Festival Parade Course (pdf)

Ticket Available at
Visitor Information Center
JR Kyoto station 2F <8:30 to 19:00, daily>
TEL (+81)-75-343-0548

Information Center Operated by Travel Agency
3F Kyoto Tower Bldg., (in front of JR Kyoto station)
TEL (+81)-75-341-0280

・KYOTO TOURIST INFORMATION CENTER by H.I.S. <9:00 to 18:00 daily>
3F TSUJIKURA Bldg, 380 Komeya-cho, Kawaramachi Shijo, Nakagyo-ku,Kyoto, Kyoto
TEL (+81)-75-253-0288

・OSAKA TOURIST INFORMATION CENTER by H.I.S.<9:00 to 21:00 daily>
8F Shinsaibashi OPA, 1-4-3 Nishi Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka
TEL (+81)-6-6253-8866

* Ticket is not refundable.
We apologize if tickets are sold out.

Gion Matsuri Festival Main Event Calendar
[July 1 - 31 (schedule of the event is subject to change)]
There will be the Preceding Festival (Saki Matsuri) procession (23 Yama Hoko) on the 17th, and the Latter Festival (Ato Matsuri) procession (10 Yama Hoko: revived for the first time in 2014 after 49 years) on the 24th will be held.

Each Yama Hoko Community
Kippu-iri means the beginning of sacred ritual. On this day, people gather to have the first meeting for this year. Each Yama Hoko community sets a special alter to enshrine the symbol of deity.

[Kujitori Ceremony]
Kyoto City Hall
Order of grand procession will be decided by drawing.

[Mikoshi Arai Ceremony]
Shijo Bridge
Mikoshi portable shrine is carried out of Yasaka Shrine and is brought to Shijo Bridge. The mikoshi will be purified by the water of Kamo River.

10th - 14th
[Preceding Festival (Saki Matsuri)] Hoko and Yama Tate Construction

12th - 14th
[Saki Matsuri: Preceding Festival] Yama Hoko Trial Pulling ・Byo-bu Festival (Folding Screen Display)

14th - 16th
[Preceding Festival] Yoi-yama
The festival's energy reaches its peak.

[Yama Hoko Grand Procession: Preceding Festival Procession]
Shijo Karasuma (From 9:00) - Kawaramachi - Oike

[Shinko-sai Festival] 16:00

[Mikoshi Departure Ceremony] 18:00
Yasaka Shrine - Shijo Otabisho
Yasaka Shrine's three mikoshi are transferred to Otabisho via local community. This is a popular part of the ceremony and has a bustling atmosphere.

18th - 21st
[Latter Festival (Ato Matsuri)] Hoko and Yama Tate Construction

20 - 21st
[Latter Festival] Hoko and Yama Trail Pulling

21st - 23rd
[Latter Festival] Yoi Yama and Folding Screen Display

[Yama Hoko Procession: Latter Festival Procession]
Karasuma Oike (9:30) - Kawaramachi - Shijo

[Hanagasa Procession]
Yasaka Shrine (10:00) - Kyoto City Hall - Yasaka Shrine

[Kanko-sai Festival]
Shijo Otabisho (around 17:00) - Yasaka Shrine
Yasaka Shrine's three mikoshi will depart from Otabisho, and go around the communities, then return to the shrine.

[Mikoshi Arai Ceremony]
Shijo Bridge 20:30
Same with the Mikoshi Arai held on the 10th, mikoshi will be purified with the water of Kamo River and will be returned to the shrine.

Eki Shrine Nagoshi Summer Purification
Eki Shrine (in Yasaka Shrine)
A large wreath made with reed is hung on the torii shrine gate of Eki Shrine (in Yasaka Shrine). It is believed that going through the wreath can get rid of bad fortunes.

The highlights of Gion Matsuri Festival

Hoko-tate and Yama-tate Construction
Preceding Festival: July 10 (Sun.)-14 (Thurs.)
Latter Festival: July 18 (Mon., national holiday)-21 (Thurs.)
Each Yamahoko community
Each Hoko and Yama community starts to construct their float. Using no nails, massive floats are set up only using traditional technique of tying ropes which is an amazing to watch.

Yama & Hoko Trial Pulling
Preceding Festival: July 12 (Tue.)-14 (Thurs.)
Latter Festival: July 20 (Wed.)-21 (Thurs.)
Each Yamahoko community
The people of each respective float community try carrying or pulling the newly constructed floats, accompanied by Gion Bayashi music, to ensure that they are ready for the parade.

Yoi-yama: Saki Matsuri Preceding Festival
July 14 (Thurs.) - 16 (Sat.)
Each Yama Hoko community
In each Yama Hoko community, people gorgeously decorate their Yama and Hoko and light Komagata lanterns. Many stalls are set up on the street in the bell and whistle sound of Gion Bayashi - the festive atmosphere reaches the highest.
Yoi-yama lasts for three days but the most recommended day is the 14th. Visit Naginata, Tsuki, Kanko and other large floats on Shijo Street before sunset is good as they will get very crowded. Intersection where Shijo and Muromachi cross each other is called "Intersection of Yama Hoko" as floats can be seen in all directions.
At some floats, like Tsuki and Kikusui, visitors can climb up the float if they buy a chimaki amulet and accessories.

Car-free Street
18:00-23:00 (TBA)
Shijo Street between Yasaka Shrine and Horikawa will be car-free on the 15th and 16th. Area of car-free street is subject to change.

Yoi-yama: Ato Matsuri Latter Festival
July 21 (Thurs.) - 23 (Sat.)
An elegant yoi-yama night view will be enjoyed with the lanterns lit-up and the gion bayashi music filled the air.

Byobu Folding Screen Display
Saki Matsuri (Preceding Festival): July 14 (Thurs.) - 16 (Sat.)
Ato Matsuri (Latter Festival): July 21 (Thurs.) - 23 (Sat.)
Houses and shops in each Yama Hoko Community
During Yoi-yama, a special folding screen exhibits called Byobu Matsuri is also held. Families and shops which possess traditional and gorgeous folding screen will exhibit them to the public. Visiting these houses is also an attraction of Yoi-yama.
Especially, many houses open the door on Shinmachi, Muromachi and Rokkaku Street. Go and see beautiful folding screens and classical Kyoto-style machiya townhouses at night.

Saki Matsuri (Preceding Festival) Yama Hoko procession
July 17 (Sun.)
Procession departs at 9:00
Floats depart from Shijo Karasuma at 9:00. After they take "Kuji Aratame" to check order in the procession, the Chigo sacred child on Naginata Hoko cut the rope by a sword and finally the procession begins. Massive floats which are as large as a 5-story building go around the city. This is such a spectacle to watch and absolutely the most exciting moment in the festival. At large intersections (Kawaramachi Shijo, Kawaramachi Oike and Oike Shinmachi), some dozens of men pull the float and change direction at their full strength which is very exciting and energetic scene. So many exciting highlights, Gion Bayashi festive sound, grand Yama and Hoko... It feels like the one is in the middle of "Moving Museum" - This is what people must experience in Kyoto this month.
*Special reserved seats will be available along Oike Street.

Ato Matsuri Latter Festival Yama & Hoko procession
July 24 (Sun.)
Procession departs at 9:30
With making the procession in reverse order from the Saki Matsuri, the procession departs at 9:30 from Karasuma Oike. The Kuji-aratame will be held at Teramachi Oike, near the viewing reserved seats area. With the leading Hashibenkei-yama (which does not enter the draw), the procession goes from Oike Street to Kawaramachi Street and then heading west on Shijo Street. The last year revived-Ofune-hoko after 150 years will bring up the rear. The dynamic Hoko's Tsuji-mawashi (making a turn) can be seen at the Kawaramachi Oike and Kawaramachi Shijo. Also the proceeding Flower Hat Procession is worth seeing.
*Special reserved seats will be available along Oike Street.

Hanagasa Flower Hat Procession
July 24 (Sun.)
Yasaka Shrine
From 10:00
Hanagasa is an old form of Yama and Hoko floats. Kasa Hoko, Umaosa Chigo child and children dressed in samurai costumes parade in the city. Geiko and maiko from two kagai also join the procession. With festive music of Gion Bayashi, the large scale procession of about 1,000 people goes around the city.
Procession route
In front of Yasaka Shrine - Shijo Kawaramachi - Oike - Teramachi - Shijo - Higashioji - Shinko - Yasaka Shrine
Gion Ishidan-shita (Yasaka Shrine) - Teramachi Street - Oike Street =Kawaramachi Street - Shijo Street - Yasaka Shrine
Access: Kyoto City Bus #100, 206 "Gion"

Shinko-sai and Kanko-sai Festival
July 17 (Sun.), 24 (Sun.)
Yasaka Shrine - Otabisho
In the Kanko-sai Festival on the 17th, spirit of the deity of Yasaka Shrine is moved to three mikoshi portable shrines and the mikoshi move to Otabisho on Shijo Teramachi around 18:00. In the Kanko-sai Festival on the 24th, mikoshi return to the shrine.
Access: Kyoto City Bus #100, 206 "Gion"

Gion Matsuri Festival 2016

Gion Matsuri Festival July 1 (Fri.) - 31 (Sun.) Gion Matsuri Festival is one of Japan's three large...