Highlights and access methods of Gion Matsuri (Kyoto Prefecture)

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The Gion Festival is one of the largest festivals in Japan and is held every July in Kyoto. The festival is a time of thanksgiving to the gods and prayers for the purification of the city from epidemics, and attracts many tourists during Yoiyama, when the floats line the streets of Kyoto, and during Mikoshi-togyo and Yamahoko Junko, the procession of portable shrines.

In this article, we will explain the attractions of Gion Matsuri in Kyoto Prefecture and how to access it for those who are traveling to Japan from overseas.

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(Prefecture : Kyoto , Category : Festivals)

Highlights of Gion Matsuri

The Gion Matsuri is a festival of Yasaka Shrine with a variety of festivals held over a period of about a month, from "Kippu-iri" on July 1 to "Ekijinjya Nagoshisai" at the Yasaka Shrine on July 31. Of these, the most notable are "Mikoshi Togyo" and the "Yamahoko Junkou". These festivals are also registered as Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.

Yoiyama is the most popular time of the Gion Festival. During Yoiyama, each town's "Yamahoko" float, the pride of the town, is lined up in various locations throughout the city of Kyoto. As the sun sets and it gets dark, numerous lanterns are hung on the floats, creating a fantastic sight.

The Yamahoko Junko plays a vital role in the festival, as it purifies the town of Kyoto of its impurities before welcoming the god of Yasaka Shrine back to the town in a portable shrine, and then purifying the shrine of its impurities again and returning the god to Yasaka Shrine. This Yamahoko Junko is the biggest event of the month-long Gion Festival and is loved by many tourists and locals alike.

During the Gion Festival, chimakis are given as a special good-luck charm. These are made of bamboo leaves and are believed to protect against epidemics and calamities. Please note that it is to be displayed to ward off bad luck and is not to be eaten.

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Address and access method of Gion Matsuri

The Gion Festival is held in Kyoto city. For example, the Yamaboko Junko departs from near the Shijo Karasuma intersection, and the address of the Shijo Karasuma intersection is "Naginataboko-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto-shi, Kyoto". The nearest station is Hankyu Railway Karasuma Station. It's a short walk from the station.

Attractions near Gion Matsuri

Near Gion Matsuri, there are several other attractions worth visiting in the surrounding area:

Yasaka Shrine
The spiritual home of the Gion Festival, Yasaka Shrine is a beautiful and serene place that dates back over 1350 years. Its vermilion-colored buildings are a sight to behold, and it offers a sense of tranquility amidst the city's hustle and bustle.

Kiyomizu-dera Temple
This UNESCO World Heritage Site offers stunning views of Kyoto. Particularly known for its wooden terrace, visitors can enjoy the panoramic vista of the city and the nearby mountains.

Maruyama Park
Adjacent to Yasaka Shrine, this park is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll or picnic. The park is particularly beautiful during cherry blossom season.

Gion District
Known as Kyoto's geisha district, Gion is filled with traditional wooden machiya merchant houses. Walking through its atmospheric streets, you can experience the traditional aspects of Japanese culture.

Other information about Gion Matsuri

Official site about Gion Matsuri :


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( Written by Tatsuo Ikura )