What is Yoiyama? 宵山とは
Yoiyama means a kind of small festivals held a few days before in Hokomachi.
Hokomachi is a district where we can find Yamaboko floats. As seen in the photo above, there are many paper lanterns hanging on Yamaboko floats.
Yoiyama is preparation for Mikoshi and Yamaboko parade. It sitll reminds secret when it started but Gion Groyo-e Saiki, a book on Gion Goryo-e (the former name of Gion matsuri.), tells us it began in the 18th century.
Today, the word Yoiyama has two meanings; The three consecutive days before Yamaboko parade, and the eve of the parade.
In Atomatsuri, Yamaboko parade is on 24th. We call 23th Yoiyama, 22th Yoiyoiyama, and 21st Yoiyoiyoiyama precisely.
In this article, we call the nights of 21~23th Yoiyama.
In Yoiyama, we can see paper lanterns hanging on Yamaboko floats, enjoy Ohayashi music, and have Chimaki amulet and Goshuin stamps at Kaisyo, a kind of head office of Yamaboko floats. At many Kaisho, we can enjoy ornaments of Yamaboko. It is called “Kaisyo Kazari.” Most of them are put on Yamaboko floats on the very day of Yamaboko parade.
For more info. on Gion matsuri
When would we go the Yoiyama?
In daytime or night
If you wanted Chimaki, Goshuin stamp, and other things at Kaisyo, it would be better go there in daytime though Yoi of Yoiyama means “night.” At night, many people visited Kaisyo and it might take time to have these things.
We have hot days in daytime usually. Prepare for them!
In addition to it, we have some rituals on 23th July. Around 2:00 p.m., in front of Kaisyo of Enno Gyojya yama, Gomadaki Kuyo ritual is held. In this ritual, we have our wish on a small piece of wood. And Gyoja, a kind of Buddhist monk, belong to Shogoin temple set fire these pieces of wood to pray for us.
In the video, we can see small pieces of paper hanging on a rope. When the ritual is finished, we can have them as an amulet which saves us from bad luck.
In daytime, buy the things you want and enjoy Yamaboko floats, paper lanterns and Kaisyo Kazari.
We have two matsrui in Gion matsuri; Saki matsruri and Ato matsuri. In Ato matsuri, the twilight reminds of us autumn though we are in the midst of summer.
In Ato matsuri, we have car-free zones only around Yamaboko floats. And we don’t have one-way roads.
Go anywhere you want!
Access to Yoiyama
In Kyoto, we usually take bus to go to our destination but it would be better to take trains in Yoiyama period.
The bus routes are changed to avoid Hokomachi.
Following are the stations near Hokomachi (the enclosed area in blue line);
Kyoto City Subway Shijo station(the blue train on the map), Hankyu Karasuma station (the red train), and Keihan Shijo Kawaramachi station (the green train).