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Kyoto Gion Matsuri Festival: 1 - 31 of July, 2010
It is said that the summer of Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, begins with the Gion Matsuri festival. The experience is like nowhere else. It's a series of Shinto rituals and events by Yasaka shrine. Kyoto's downtown area is reserved for pedestrian traffic on the three nights leading up to the massive parade. This annual festival begins on the 1st of July and lasts until the 31st. The Gion Matsuri is ranked as one of the top three beautiful festivals in Japan!
What is the history of this unique event? The festival originated as part of a purification ritual to appease the gods thought to cause fire, floods and earthquakes. The Kyoto Gion festival was started in 869 A.D when a bad plague spread in Kyoto. In the first festival, young men carried numbers of wooden floats as a divine intervention to stop the plague. The plague soon ended, and this event became a popular festival. In the Edo Era, the current form of the decorated floats appeared in the festival.
The festival lasts for a month of July but its main events are celebrated on July 14, 15, 16 and 17. The highlights of the Kyoto Gion Matsuri festival are Yoi-yama on the 16th and Yamahoko - junko on the 17th. At Yoi-yama, some houses on the Muromachidori and Shinmachidori streets open their doors to show treasured old folding screens. Yamahoko - junko is the procession of colorful floats through downtown Kyoto. The floats are pulled through the streets by teams of men dressed in traditional costumes. Each of the large floats carries musicians.
Kyoto is one of the best places in Japan to experience the traditional lifestyle and spirit of ancient Japan. Kyoto has a wide range of traditional gardens, temples, shrines, restaurants and shops. The ancient capital of Japan is a city that boats of a rich cultural and historical heritage. The exploration of a lifetime begins in Kyoto.
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