Kyoto hosts not just one of the biggest Matsuri (Festival) in Japan, but also one of the oldest, uninterrupted, held by the Yasaka Shrine since year 869. It's called Gion Matsuri
Originally it was for praying and thanks saying after surviving an epidemic. Historically every year a boy is chosen to be a divine messenger to pray to the gods. He is supposed to not set a foot on the ground from 13th of July till 17th of July and to be paraded through that time.
Yoi-Yoi-Yoi! Let’s enjoy Kyoto’s unique festivals!
Starting on first of July Kyoto will hold festivities and events on various places in the whole city. But the interesting part are the Yoi-Festivals of Gion Matsuri. The Yoi Yoi Yoi indicates the countdown to the main event: the float procession.
Most exciting for tourists visiting Kyoto at this time may be the festivals between 14th and 16th of July, called the “Yoi-Yoi-Yoi-Yama”, “Yoi-Yoi-Yama” and “Yoi-Yama”. On 15th and 16th the Shijo-dori Street will be closed for traffic. Many people will gather for food, drinks and maybe some nice Japanese Matsuri-booths. It is one of the most popular times to wear a Yukata (a traditional light Japanese cloth). It is the time to show color and enjoy the festival feeling. And during the Yoi-Yama, all the Yamaboko has been already set up around sanjo-dori and shijo-dori. You can easily find them while join the Yoi-Yama.
These dates may be the most important for the whole month:
7/17 Main float procession Yamaboko Junko (9 Yama and 23 Hoko)
7/24 2nd float procession (viewer and smaller floats)
The main procession on 17th of July, called Yamaboko Junko. It consists of Yama (big floats) and Hoko (smaller floats), decorated with Nishijin Textiles (Nishijin is a special district in Kyoto, where traditional, japanese textiles are produced). They are going to have a parade from 9:00am to the night. The good news is if you stay in The Millennials Kyoto's common area, you can watch the parade without crowded people.
After the first procession there will be another three days of Yoi-festival “Yoi-Yoi-Yoi-Yama” from 21st to 23rd of July. But unfortunately there will be no food or drink stand in the second Yoi-Yama event. After these festival days a second float procession will be held with viewer and smaller floats.
You can enjoy unique Kyoto with many different, traditional japanese events, foods, drinks and clothes and of course the Japanese Summer. We recommend to go with friends and family for the best enjoyable time. Yukata and Kimono can be rent in various shops in Kyoto.