Gion Matsuri Main Event Calendar
Saki Matsuri (Preceding Parade): July 17 (Thurs.) From 9:00 –
1st: Naginata-hoko Osendo:
From 10:00 at Yasaka Shrine, this year's Chigo (the sacred page boy who rides on the leading Naginatahoko) visits Yasaka Shrine and prays for safety during the festival.
10th: Omukae Chochin WelcomingLanterns:
Men wearing formal kimono depart from Yasaka Shrine at 16:30. They escort children dressed up in gorgeous traditional outfits and head west along Shijo to Kawaramachi. Their role is to welcome the mikoshi portable shrines carried out of Yasaka Shrine later in the evening (see below).
10th: Mikoshi Arai Purification:
During the festival, the deities of Yasaka Shrine reside in a temporary shrine called the Otabisho (on the south side of Shijo, just east of Teramachi). Before moving the deities on the mikoshi portable shrines, the mikoshi are purified with water from the Kamo River. The mikoshi depart from Yasaka Shrine at 19:00 and arrive at Shijo Bridge at 20:00.
10th-14th: Hoko and Yama Construction:
The preceding festival's 23 floats are assembled in the communities they belong to. This is a great opportunity for getting a close up look at the floats.
12th-13th: Hoko & Yama Trial Pulling: 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 on the 17th.
On the three nights before the grand parade, the festival's energy reaches its peak. The streets west of Karasuma and south of Oike are crowded with people looking at the lit up Yama & Hoko floats. Gion Bayashi music fills the air, and countless stalls are set up along the colorfully decorated streets.
14th-16th: Folding Screen Display:
On these days the old textile merchant homes and businesses on Shinmachi and Muromachi open up the front parts of their homes and shops to show off their valuable folding screens and other treasures.
15th: Traditional Theatre Performance Dedication:
From 15:00 to 18:00, traditional Japanese theatre performances (kabuki, biwa lute, harp, kyogen, dance, etc.) will be performed on the stage in the center of Yasaka Shrine.
16th: Iwami Kagura:
From 18:30 at Yasaka Shrine, ancient court dance called Iwami Kagura Shinto dance and music will be performed to the music of flutes and bells.
17th: Yama Hoko Grand Parade:
At 9:00, the leading Naginata-hoko starts forward. When it reaches Fuyacho Street, the float's chigo (sacred child) cuts a straw rope with a sword and the parade begins.
17th: Shinko-sai Festival:
At 18:00, the shrine deities that preside over the festival are transported in three special mikoshi (portable shrines) from Yasaka Shrine to the Otabisho. More than 1,000 people will participate in this important procession.
The information on this site is reprinted from the July 2014 issue of Kyoto Visitor's Guide. ©AD BRAIN INC. Published on 14.07.10
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