- Gion Matsuri 2022
- Breaking News 2022年最新情報
- Schedule 2022
- The order of Yamahoko Parade 2022
- Why is “Gion matsuri” festival celebrated ?
- What to see in Gion matsuri festival?
- Access to Gion matsuri festival
EXCLUSIVE!!! Takayama come backs to Yamahoko Parade for the 1st time in 196 years!!!
CONGRATULATIONS and WELCOME BAAAAAHCK!!!
We can enjoy ALL OF THEM for the 1st time in 3 years.
In addition to them, Takayama is to come back to the parade for the 1st time in 196 years!!! Welcome baaaaahck!!!!!Check the link below.
This Darticle is the most precise guide on Gion matsuri festival in Kyoto; its schedule, history, the reason why it is celebrated, the routes of Yamahoko parade, Yoiyama, souvenirs, and other must-sees.
In 2019, we commemorated the new Imperial era and
the 1150th anniversarry of Gion matsuri!
We had many events we don’t have in any other year!
More info. to enjoy Gion matsuri, BAAH!
- Why celebrated?
- Why Gion matsuri started in the private garden of emperors? (It is a post of the rock garden of Ryoanji and shows you the meaning of Japanese garden.)
- Gozu tenno and epidemics
- Mikoshis of Gion Matsuri
- When Yamahoko parade started?
- How to make Yamahoko floats?
- All the Yamahoko floats
- Sakimatsuri Yoiyama
- Atomatsuri Yoiyama
Attention: This article is subject to be revised.
Gion Matsuri 2022
On June 23, Yasaka shrine and Yamahoko Rengo Kai (Yamahoko float association) held a press conference prior to Gion Matsuri 2022 and a chief priest of Yasaka Shrine pointed out:
- Yasaka shrine emphasizes the authentic aim of Gion Matsuri: To get rid of epidemics.
- The Deities visit on Mikoshis and stay at Otabisho .
- In 2022, the doors of the main hall was opened at a ritual for the fist time in 60 years. At the rituals held in Gion Matsuri, the doors will be opened up for us.
- At Sakimatsuri Yoiyama (7/15) and Yoiyoiyama(7/16), around 600 food, game, and souvenir stands will be available.
- Takayama is to come back to Yamahoko Parade for the first time in 196 years.
1 The authentic aim Gion Matsuri
In 869, Gion Matsuri started as Goryoe for the purpose of getting rid of Ekijin. People believed that Ekijin is a deity who causes epidemics and natural disasters.
These years, the word “Gion Matsuri” often reminds people, especially tourists, of Yamahok Parade. Only the denizens and Gion Matsuri-enthusiasts know the aim though the peculiar thing to Gion Matsuri is to get rid of epidemics.
Check the link below.
In addition to it, the priest referred to the meaning of water as purifier in Shinto. In Shinto, we believe water is purifier because deities purify themselves in Japanese mythology. Under the main hall of Yasaka shrine, there is a well capped with a plaster rid.
It is possible to think that Yasaka shrine puryfies Kyoto through ground water. In ancient times, Shoshoi Mikoshi used to rest over a well of Shosoi Otabisho for the same effect.
2 Deities and Mikoshis
In Gion Matsuri, we invite the Deities of Ysaka shrine to the downtown to get rid of the cause of epidemics. This is the most important thing.
The last two years, they visit there on the Himorogis on the horse back. (Himorogi is a plant where deities descend to) Himorogi is an abbreviated way. This year they are visit us in the authentic way.
3 The doors opened up to us
The main hall is a place for deities, not for us. The doors are always closed even in rituals because the main hall is a sacred place. This year, to get rid of the epidemics, they will be open.
Yoiyama is a night on the eve of the Deities’ visit. It is one of the most exciting moments of Gion Matsuri. The last two years, it was canceled or abbreviated. In 2022, we can enjoy it as usual year.
5 Takayama comeback special 2022
Takayama is one of the long-lost Yamahoko floats. In 1826, Takayama paraded in a typhoon and wrecked. Two years later, a huge fire burned it out except Goshintai figurines and other parts. In 2022, a brand-new Takayama joins to the parade.
Breaking News 2022年最新情報
Today, Gion Mtsuri 2022 was completed. I extend my deepest gratitude and respect for every single person engaged in the festival and all the reades. 合掌
The souvenirs of Takayama are available.
7/15 Yoi Yoi Yama 宵々山
Yoi Miya Sai宵宮祭
Now the Deities are on Mikoshis and ready for outing.
Yoi Yoi Yama 宵々山
Yoiyama area is so crowded as usual year.
There were a few Food stands.
7/14 Yoi Yoi Yoi Yama 宵々々山
Breaking report, 合掌
- NO traffic regulations are in effect but lots of police officer are there.
- We cannot stay around Naginata Hoko, and Kanko Hoko.
- At 19:00, Chimaki of Naginata Hoko are sold out.
- We can get 4 Goshuin stamps at Kanko Hoko.
- At Yamabushi Yama Kaisho, we can admire brad-new Mizuhikis (somthing like carpets decolate floats.) . Buy something at Yamabushiyama to see them. Usual year, we exercise Chinowakuguri but it’s not available this year due to COVID-19. 3 types of Goshuin stamps are available.
- Ofune Hoko Kaisho is open in Sakimatsuri. Goshuin stamps and souvenirs are available. This year, Ofune Hoko parades with a golden dragon. It makes Ryuto Gekishu with Fune Hoko.
- At Toroyama Kaisyo, most of all T-shrits are sold out.
- It takes about 90 minutes to see all of Yamahoko floats except Hosho Yama. It will take much more time on 15th and 16th.
- In Yoiyama, it’s hot because there are lots of people around us. Take water or smth when feeling thirsty.
Make sure what Ryuto Gekishu boats are.
Typical Sakimatsuri bleu. We cannot expect this in Atomatsuri.
Shijo street is not crowede as expected.
So is Yoiyama area.
Kanko Hoko has 4 types Goshiin stamps. 1 and 2 is available any other years except ”令和四年.” ”令和四年” is our Imperial year. Get both of them at a Tent located east to Kanko Hoko. 3 is available at the one to located west to it. 4 is available at the one to located west to it. Each one of them is 300 JPY.
4 is peculiar. Soラブリー( Rabu Ry, lovely)
|Ochigosan and the neighbourhood association of Naginata Hoko pay a visit to Yasaka shrine.|
|2nd||11:30||Yamahoko Rengokai Shasan|
|Members of Yamahoko Rengokai association pay a visit to Yasaka shrine.|
|6th||14:00||Hamo Hono Hokoku Sai|
|The Tourism Assosiation of Awaji dedicates Hamo fishes.|
|7th||14:30||Ayagasahoko Chigo Shasan|
|Ochigosan and the neighbourhood association pay a visit to Yasaka shrine.|
|10th||13:00||Japanese Mythology Reading|
|Story tellers’ dedication of Japanese Mythology.|
|18:00~||Mikoshi Arai Shiki|
|Mikoshi is cleansed at Yasaka Shrine.|
|At Yasaka Shrine.|
|13th||11:00||Naginatahoko Chigo Shasan|
|Ochogosan pays a visit to Yasaka shrine on his steed.|
|Kuze Chigo Shasan|
|The counsil of Ayato Kuninaka shrine pays a visit to Yasaka shrine.|
|15th||10:00||Ikamaryuu Hocho Honoshiki|
|In the main hall of Yasaka shrine.|
|15:00||Dedication of Traditional Preformances|
|Imayo, and others.|
|Preiests lead the Deities in to Mikoshi.|
|At Yasaka Shrine.|
|18:30||Iwami Kagura Hono|
|The Kagura performance tells a story of the Deity.|
|The musicians of Yamahoko floats dedicates Kagura music to the Deities at Otabisho.|
|For the 1st time in 3 years!!!|
|18:00||Gosinrei Togyo Sai|
|3 Mikoshis head for Otabisho.|
|23rd||9:00||Sencha Kencha Sai|
|At Yasaka Shrine.|
|For the 1st time in 3 years!!!|
|Around 21:00||Kanko Sai|
|3 Mikoshis return Yasaka shrine.|
|At Yasaka Shrine.|
|18:30||Mikoshi Arai Shiki|
|At Yasaka Shrine.|
|31st||10:00||Eki Jinja Nagoshi Sai|
|At Eki Jinja shrine, in Yasaka shrine.|
The order of Yamahoko Parade 2022
The order of Yamahok Parade of the year depends on lottery except fixed ones since 1500. The following is the order of 2022.
|2||山壱番(Yama 1st)||孟宗山(Moso Yama)|
|3||山弐番(Yama 12nd)||保昌山(Hosho Yama)|
|4||山参番(Yama 3rd)||郭巨山(Kakkyo Yama)|
|6||山四番(Yama 4th)||白楽天山(Hakurakuten Yama)|
|7||傘壱番(kasa 1st)||四条傘鉾(Sijo Kasahoko)|
|8||山五番(Yama 5th)||油天神山(Abura Tenjin Yama)|
|9||鉾壱番(Hoko 2nd)||月鉾(Tsuki Hoko)|
|10||山六番(Yama 6th)||蟷螂山(Toro Yama)|
|11||山七番(Yama 7th)||山伏山(Yamabushi Yama)|
|12||山八番(Yama 8th)||霰天神山(Araretenjin Yama)|
|13||鉾弐番(Hoko 2nd)||鶏鉾(Niwatori Hoko)|
|14||山九番(Yama 9th)||木賊山(Tokusa Yama)|
|15||傘弐番(Kasa 2nd)||綾傘鉾(Ayagasa Hoko)|
|16||山拾番(Yama 10th)||占出山(Urade Yama)|
|17||鉾参番(Hoko 3rd)||菊水鉾(Kikusui Hoko)|
|18||山拾一番(Yama 11th)||芦刈山(Ashikari Yama)|
|19||山拾弐番(Yama 12th)||伯牙山(Hakuga Yama)|
|20||山拾参番(Yama 13th)||太子山(Taishi Yama)|
|2||くじ取らず(FIXED)||北観音山(Kita Kannnon Yama)|
|3||山壱番(Yama 1st)||浄妙山(Jyomyo Yama)|
|4||山弐番(Yama 12nd)||鯉山(Koi Yama)|
|5||山参番(Yama 3rd)||鈴鹿山(Suzuka Yama)|
|6||くじ取らず(FIXED)||南観音山(Minami Kannon Yama)|
|7||山四番(Yama 4th)||役行者山(En no Gyojya Yama)|
|8||山五番(Yama 5th)||黒主山(Kuronushi Yama)|
|9||山六番(Yama 6th)||八幡山(Hachiman Yama)|
Why is “Gion matsuri” festival celebrated ?
Gion matsturi festival (祇園祭) is one of the most famous “matsuri (festival)” in Japan. The word “Gion” means a name of a small area in the eastern part of Kyoto city. It was named after the former name of Yasaka shrine (八坂神社) which holds Gion matsuri festival.
So, let me show you the short history of the shrine.
A short history of Yasaka shrine
The foundation of Yasaka shrine remains to be secret because of its long history. At least in the 9th century, the shrine was known as Gion-kanjinin (祇園感神院), or Gion-sha (祇園社),the Buddhist temple. This sounds very strange because Yasaka shrine is a Shinto shrine today. Why was a Shinto shrine a Buddhist temple?
In ancient Japan, both Shinto and Buddhism were fused. Shinto is a religion indigenous to Japan. It is a kind of animism and a code for a small community. On the other hand, Buddhism was a religion brought to Japan from ancient India in 6th century. When our ancestors saw the introduction of Buddhism, they did not fall away Shinto. They fused both of these religions and reconstructed them as a new belief instead. That is one of the typical and characteristic way of thinking Japanese people take. If we find something interesting and it is no harm to the members of society, we just adopt it.
Now go back to the word “Gion (祇園)“. As a Budhhist temple, former Yasaka shrine worshiped Gozu-tenno (牛頭天王) as a Buddhist Deity. Gozu-tennowas a guardian of Gion-shoja( 祇園精舎、Jatavana). So former Yasaka shrine was called Gion-kanshinin, or Gion-sha.Take a look at the picture above. It is a photo of small reservoir where visitors purify themselves. You can see engraved Kanji letters. They read Kanjinin (感神院).
This is a short history of Yasaka shrine. Now make it clear that why Yasaka shrine holds Gion matsuri festival in the following chapter.
The beginning of Gion matsuri festival
The history of Gion matsturi festival dates back to 869. At that time in Kyoto, many people suffered smallpox, dysentery, and other epidemics because of hot and damp whether and ill-prepared water supply. At the same time, whole Japan saw natural disasters like earthquake and tsunami and suffered huge expansion of maladies.
In those days, people thought evil spirit causes epidemics and natural disasters. The imperial court gave Urabeno-Hiramaro (卜部日良麻呂), the priest of Gion-sya,an order to hold Goryo-e, the ritual to calm down evil spirit at Shinsen-en (神泉苑),the largest pond in ancient Kyoto.(The picture above.).
He put the spirit of Gozu-tenno, the Buddhist Deity, into one of three portable shrines and sent them from Gion-sya to Shinsen-en and placed 66 hokos (矛)there (We don’t have exact idea of their appearance but I suppose they looked like these hokos in the picutre above). His aim was to put the evil spirits together and have them descended to the hokosand ask Gozu-tenno to get rid of them.
This ritual is called Gion-goryo-e, the origin of Gion matsuri festival. In the begging, the Goryo-ewas held when epidemics expanded, and became annual event in 970. Since then, the festival was carried on for 1000 years despite of some interruption.
Gion matsuri festival today
As indicated before, Shinto and Buddhism was fused and Shinto shrines and Buddhist temple were confused. In 1868, the Meiji government gave an order to shrines and temples. They were forced to make decision to be a Shinto shrine or Buddhist temple in terms of law. Gion-kanshininchoose to be a Shinto (神道) shrine.It became Yasaka shrine and Gion-Goryo-e (御霊会) was renamed as Gion matsuri.
The fact that the Buddhist temple became a Shinto shrine does not mean a reincarnation of the Gion matsuri. Many documents prove that Gion-kanshinin worked and was considered as Buddhist temple and Shinto shrine: it held Buddhist ritual and that of Shinto.
That is a reason why the principle of Gion matsuri festival still remains the same though 1000 years of its history. People bring Deitieson the portable shrines and ask them to get rid of evil spirits which gathered around hoko.
What to see in Gion matsuri festival?
Yamaboko float Parade (山鉾巡行)
The hokos in Gion goryo-eis believed to developed into Yamahokos/Yamabokos (山鉾). At the first time, people held hokos by the hand. In Muromachi period (1336 – 1573), they are on the carriage called Hokosya (鉾車). At the end of the period, the hokosya began to be decorated with ornaments as Yamahoko of these days. Yamahoko was decided to be registered as UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage on last November.
Yoiyama festival (宵山)
Yoiyama (宵山) is the most popular event in Gion matsuri festival. When twilight comes, paper lanterns on Yamahokos are lit and the musicians of Hokos begin to play Ohayashi (お囃子) music.(See the video above.)
On the Yoiyama days, Yamahokos almost dress full except some ornaments and Goshintai(御神体).
Yoiyama is the most popular event in Gion matsuri festival. It is also known as Byobu matsuri. Byobu is a Japnese traditional partition. During the period of Yoiyama, Yamahoko neighbors let the visitors see their treasures such as Byobu (屏風) and paintings inside of their house. Let us see the picture above. It is a Byobu that the golden boards on which cranes and pine trees printed. In front of it, there is a Japanese traditional strumming instrument called Koto. Behind in you can see Ikebana, the Japanese traditional flower arrangement and a painting.
Gion bayashi (祇園囃子)
Gion bayashi is a kind of Ohayashi. As usual, Ohayashi is music played in matsuri (festival) to cheer it up. But I’m not sure we can find anything cheering in the Gion bayashi because Gion matsuri festival is not only for us but also for the deceased.
Souvenirs of Gion matsuri festival
The most popular souvenirs in Gion matsuri is Chimaki (粽).
Chimaki is an amulets you can have at Yamohokos and their headquarters. We usually put it on the entrance of our home.
This is the origin of Chimaki called Chinowa (茅の輪). It is a wreath made of plant called Chigaya.The following is a story about it.
Once upon a time, Susanoo-no-mikoto (素戔嗚尊) was on his Odyssey. He asked for one night stay to Kotan-shorai (巨旦将来). He denied it though he was very wealthy but his brother Somin-shorai (蘇民将来) accept it though he suffered in poverty. The next morning, Susanoo-no-mikoto said to him that he will save hid descendants from any maladies and asked him to make his descendants put on Chinowa as a mark.
Take a close look at Chimaki. You can see the kanjis on the left side. They read “蘇民将来之子孫也”. These mean “The descendants of Somin-syorai.“.
You can also have Chinowa amulets at some Yamahokos. The Chinowa in the picture is sold at Koiyama.
Access to Gion matsuri festival
Usually, taking Kyoto city bus is the most easiest way to access to any where in Kyoto but bus route is subject to be changed in July.
The routes of Kyoto city bus are to be changed during Gion Matsuri period. It would be better to take trains and subways indicated below.
Take Kyoto municipal subway, Hakyu railways and Keihan railways.
Sijyo station (Kyoto municipal subway)
Karasuma station (Hakyu railways)
Shijo kawaramchi station (Keihan railways)