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The 2010 Gion Matsuri (festival) parade of yama and hoko “floats” is coming up. This is a spectacle of ancient pageantry not to be missed.
Also, on the three days and nights leading up to the parade, Yoiyama (16th), Yoi-yoi-yama (15th) and Yoi-yoi-yoi-yama (14th), revelers stroll up and down shijo street and the other main downtown streets, many in colorful summer yukata, eating, drinking, carousing, visiting the floats and listening to the distinctive music of the festival.
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The Gion Festival (matsuri=festival) is the biggest event of the year in Kyoto, and one of the biggest in Japan. It started in 869 as an appeal to the gods after a plague, according to the official story. The huge pikes that spear the sky are meant to appease the gods, which doesn’t sound logical, but similar pike poles are part of other Kyoto festivals. On the night of July 16th, the pre-parade festivities reach a peak with the Yoi-yama viewing of the “floats” …
Here it comes again, the Kurama Himatsuri is held every October 22 in a tiny mountain village in northern Kyoto. Starting at 6 pm with small kids and small torches, progressively larger torches are paraded up and down this one-street town by teams in traditional costume, as a thumping taiko beat stokes the enthusiasm.
Take the Eizan train from Demachiyanagi to the last station at Kurama. There won’t be enough space for parking, so forget driving. Go at least 2 hours early, and figure on waiting in line 1-2 hours …
The Jidai Matsuri on October 22 is one of the “Three Big Festivals” of Kyoto, and celebrates the history of Kyoto with a parade of reenactors in costume, on horses, atop wagons, and with all manner of attendants and accoutrements. They depart the old Imperial Palace (called Kyoto Gosho) at noon, but it takes more than an hour for all the participants to stream out the southern gate.
The parade route covers about 5 km, reaching Heian Shrine about 2:30 p.m.
Every era of Kyoto’s long history is covered. There are of …
Inside the Hara House during preparations for the Kurama Fire Festival. My forthcoming documentary will show the building of the torches and other preparations for the neighborhood tradition that goes back more than 1,000 years, as well as interviews and extended footage of the wild torch runs. Sorry for the nasty watermark but I’m protecting this until the video comes out.