The Gion Festival which directs the hot summer of Kyoto taken by the current Yasaka Shrine is a festival that begins from the Heian era and rejects plague and disasters and wish for a peaceful day. The schedule of the festival is a long festival of a period to be held from July 1st to 31st, the main is the pre-festival on the 17th and the post-festival on the 24th. The “Yamahoko-junko” (a parade of beautifully decorated floats) and “Mikoshi togyo” (parade of mikoshi – portable shrines) full of breath are the most interesting points of the Gion Festival.
Early in the Heian era (around 869), plague epidemic spread all over the country including Kyoto, a lot of people died. In those days, it was thought that plague and disaster occurred due to the anger of the pestilence god and the evil spirit of the dead. At the time, this epidemic was said to be the anger of the pestilence god “Gozu Tenno” (a deity said to be the Indian god Gavagriva). Therefore, the people of those days carried out a gorgeous festival, aimed at calming the plague. This is said to be the origin of the Gion festival.
When “Gozu Tenno” was conveyed to Japan as a god who rejects plague and disaster, it became the god of the current Yasaka Shrine, and shrines that worship “Gozu Tenno” spread all over the country. Since it is the guardian deity of Gion-shoja (the Jetavana monastery), these shrines are called “Gion Shrine” and the festivals held there are called “Gion Goryoe” (an attempt to secure protection from the plague of Gionsha, or Yasaka-jinja Shrine). For these reasons, besides Kyoto, there are festivals in various places that being descended from “Gion” like “Hakata Gion Yamagasa” and “Kokura Gion Daiko“.
“Yamahoko-junko” around the city center of Kyoto is so luxurious and beautiful as “a moving art museum”. The meaning of “Yamahoko-junko” is said to make a way for the main god of the Gion festival to purify the evils and sorrows of the city of Kyoto by walking down the floats. Attention is often attracted to luxurious and powerful “Yamahoko-junko”, but the most important part of the Gion Festival is a mikoshi shrine. “Mikoshi togyo” means the peaceful lives of people living in the area by transferring the godly body to the shrine mikoshi, carrying the mikoshi and walking through the areas of shrine parishioners.
Kyoto Gion Festival is held in Yasaka-jinja Shrine in July. Various events are carried out for one month, after all the Yamahoko (decorated floats) Junko parade is the most popular.
Originally, it is a shinto ritual of Yasaka-jinja Shrine in Kyoto, the Gion festival that was continued for long time more than 1,000 years from the Heian era. It is said that it began to confine an epidemic prevails at the capital.
The Yamahoko is one of the decorations of the festival cars pulled in the rites and festivals of the Shinto shrine.
Installing the artifacts of a house or a mountain on the car, It is called “Yamahoko” which is furthermore decorated with a Naginata (long-handled sword) or a Japanese halberd.
“Hanagasa Junko” (flower umbrella cruise) on July 24 is also popular event along with “Yamahoko Junko” of the Gion festival which color the summer of Kyoto. A lot of women appear in the event, and its gorgeousness is one of the highlight of the “Hanagasa Junko”.
Please enjoy the spectacular of “Yamahoko Junko” and the gorgeous “Hanagasa Junko”. It is a historical and well-known festival of Kyoto, so you can feel the history more than 1,000 years.
|Name:||Gion Matsuri Festival|
|Adresse:||Nijohanjikicho Kyoto Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto 600-8412 Japan|
|Access:||Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma-sen Line “Shijo-Karasuma-eki Station”|
|Tel:||(+81) 75-213-1717 (Kyoto City Tourism Association)|