Gion Matsuri ( Gion Festival) is one of the most famous festivals in Japan. It goes for the entire month of July and reached its climax on July 17 and July 24 when the parade which is known as the Yamaboko Junkō, takes place.
Kyoto’s downtown area is reserved for pedestrian traffic on the three nights leading up to the massive parade. These nights are known as Yoiyama on July 16 and July 23, Yoiyoiyama on July 15 and July 22, and Yoiyoiyoiyama on July 14 and July 21.
In 869, the people were suffering from plague and pestilence which was attributed to the rampaging deity Gozu Tennō. Emperor Seiwa ordered that the people pray to Susanoo-no-Mikoto of the Yasaka Shrine.
This practice was repeated wherever an outbreak occurred. In 970, it was decreed an annual event and has since seldom been broken.
Over time the increasingly powerful and influential merchant class made the festival more elaborate and, by the Edo period (1603–1868), used the parade to brandish their wealth.
In 1533, the Ashikaga shogunate halted all religious events, but the people protested, stating that they could do without the rituals, but not the procession. This marks the progression of the festival’s current form.
Dates and functions are subject to change without notice. Be sure to check the latest information in advance.
Shijo Karasumae Area, Kyoto-City, Kyoto