Gion Matsuribabibubebo | 1 07 2007
Gion Matsuri is one of the, if not the most, famous festivals in Japan. It actually lasts pretty much the the whole month of June but the peak of the festival is July 17th with the Yama Hoko Parade. This is a massive parade where 32 floats are either pulled or carried throughout downtown Kyoto. More massive than the parade itself is the crowds of people that come to watch it. Seriously, if you are not good with crowds, then you might wanna pass on this festival. I was once told that there is an old Japanese joke that goes:
What did you see at Gion Matsuri?
The back of heads.
Yeah it is a joke, but it can’t be more true. Unless you reserve a seat (link is in Japanese but you can call 075.752.0227 from 9-5 and they should have an English speaker) or arrive super early, don’t expect to get many photos without getting some random person entering your frame. I was climbing on anything I could find space on, which usually meant waiting for another person to get off and it was still hard to get clear shots, unless I was shooting up.
Overall, I thought it was interesting and worth checking out even though it moves a little slow. Below you can see the rope the participators pull to move and turn this gigantic floats at 90 degree angles. There are probably about 20 people pulling.
Anyway, the day I went was just so hot and humid I couldn’t stand to be there more than about an hour before I ventured off into the photographer’s paradise that is Kyoto!
More general and historical information can be found at the Kyoto City Tourism site.
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