There are three big festivals in Kyoto, and one of the most famous, Gion Matsuri, is happening this month. The festival takes place throughout the entire month. For about a week now, the streets have been flooded with people coming to watch the construction of the floats and the display of the richest Kyoto families’ treasures. Friday was the largest event, a promenade of wheeled floats and men in costume.
Despite the fact that a typhoon was blowing through the city.
For the first time in the five years since I came to Japan, forces allowed me to attend the parade. Since it is my last opportunity to see the festival, I was thrilled to go. My friend, who lives in the area, also had a prime spot to view the festival from her balcony. Since festivals are pretty packed usually, and a fourth floor balcony would provide the best view of the towering floats, NJ and I accepted her offer to entertain.
The parade began very early in the morning, at around 9am, and luckily so, as by the time the festival made it to Karasuma, the typhoon was picking up steam. By the end of the festival (which I missed due to having to go to work), most everyone on the street had abandoned their paid seating. But, the festival carried on.
There are other blogs that more valiantly explain this festival here and here, but I thought I’d share my favorite photos from the day. Have a look! Also of note is that the wheels on these floats don’t have turning axises, so have to be slid across bamboo to make corners. You can see a cool video of that here.
View the whole album by clicking any of the photos!