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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Gion Matsuri Festival Float

Yoiyama Kyoto 2011祇園祭山鉾

Gion Matsuri is Kyoto's best known festival.

It has its roots in the plagues and illnesses of many centuries ago.

In bygone centuries, the residents of the city often fell victim to annual summer pestilences.

To keep the plague at bay, people would pray at Yasaka Shrine. This morphed into a formal, annual event that continues to this day.

Every July 17th - the climax of the month-long Gion Festival - a parade of giant floats takes place in the center of Kyoto.

The floats are elaborately decorated and are the highlight of the festival.

For a closer look, though, a better option is to go the night before.

On Yoiyama, a street party/festival that takes place on the night before, the floats are set outside on the streets near Shijo - Karasuma.

For a night time view, see the top right photo. For a July 17 festival-day picture, bottom left was as close as we could get.

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