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  • 執筆者の写真The Millennials

Gion Matsuri, July in Kyoto・7月 京都 祇園祭


Kyoto hosts not just one of the biggest matsuri (festival) in Japan, but also one of the oldest and uninterrupted, held by the Yasaka Shrine since year 869, the Gion matsuri. This was originally held for praying and thanking the gods for surviving an epidemic. It lasts the whole month of July and it attracts not only foreign tourists, but also people from all over Japan.

Let’s have a look to the details of the festival!


Yoi yoi yoi! Let’s enjoy summer in Kyoto!


Starting on July 1st, Kyoto will hold festivities and events in various places of the whole city. The Yoi-festivals represent the main attraction of the event. “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 events held between July 14th and 16th, known as “Yoi-Yoi-Yoi-Yama”, “Yoi-Yoi-Yama” and “Yoi-Yama”. On July 15th and 16th one of the main streets in Kyoto, Shijo street, will be closed to traffic and crowds of people will gather for food, drinks and some nice souvenirs from the matsuri. It is one of the most popular times to wear a yukata (a traditional light Japanese dress) and fully experience the Kyoto tradition. It is the time to show colours and enjoy the festival feelings.



Check out the main events:


7/14 Yoi-Yoi-Yoi-Yama

7月14日 宵々々山

7/15 Yoi-Yoi-Yama

7月15日 宵々山

7/16 Yoi-Yama

7月16日 宵山

7/17 Main float procession Yamaboko Junko (9 Yama and 23 Hoko)

7月17日 山鉾巡行

7/21 Yoi-Yoi-Yoi-Yama

7月21日 宵々々山

7/22 Yoi-Yoi-Yama

7月22日 宵々山

7/23 Yoi-Yama

7月23日 宵山

7/24 2nd float procession (fewer and smaller floats)

7月24日 山鉾巡行(規模は小さくなる)

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 July 13th to July 17th and to be paraded for the whole four days.


The main procession July 17th, Yamaboko junko, consists of yama (big floats) and hoko (smaller floats), decorated with nishijin textiles, which will be shown and processed at the riverside of Kamogawa. The textiles come from the homonymous neighborhood of Kyoto, where the most well-known and valuable textiles are produced. Interesting fact: during the parade, tourists are allowed to enter some of the floats!


After the first procession, three days of Yoi-festival “Yoi-Yoi-Yoi-Yama” will follow, from July 21st to 23rd. Then, a second float procession will be held with fewer and smaller floats.


As it is true that you can enjoy the uniqueness of Kyoto in all times of the year, it is also true that Gion matsuri is the event that will make you feel like a true person from Kyoto. Be sure to wear your yukata and enjoy delicious street food while admiring the colorful and festive parades!






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