- 1What is "Gion matsuri" festival ?
- 1.1The history of Yasaka shrine
- 1.2The beginning of Gion matsuri
- 1.3Gion matsuri today
- 2What to see in Gion matsuri festival?
- 2.1Yamahoko Parade (山鉾巡行)
- 2.2Yoiyamas (宵山)
- 2.3Gion bayashi (祇園囃子)
- 2.4Souvenirs of Gion matsuri festival
- 3Access to Gion matsuri festival 2017
- 4Schedule of Gion matsuri festival 2017
- 4.1Nagoshi no harae (夏越の祓), 30th June
- 4.1.1Chinowa Kuguri
- 4.1.2Minatsuki (水無月)
- 4.2Kipu-iri (吉符入), 1st July
- 4.3Decision of the order of Yamahoko parade (吉符入), 2nd July
- 4.3.1The order of 2017
- 188.8.131.52Sakimatsuri (前祭)
- 184.108.40.206Atomatsuri (後祭)
- 4.4Building Yamahokos, (鉾建て)10th July
- 4.4.1The construction of Hoko
- 4.5Purification of water for rituals (神用水清祓式), 10th July
- 4.6Reception with paper lantern (お迎え提灯), 10th July
- 4.7Purification of portable shrine (神輿洗式), 10th July
- 4.8Building Yamahokos, (鉾建て) 10th July
- 4.9Hikizome, (曳初め) 12th July
- 4.10Iki-Chigo of Nginatahoko pays a visit to Yasaka shrine. 13th July
- 4.11Kuze Komagata chigos pay a visit to Yasaka shrine. (久世駒形稚児社参) 13th July
- 4.12Yoiyama of Sakimatsuri (前祭 宵山) from 14 to 16th July
- 4.12.1The must-see 1 "Byobu matsuri (屏風祭)"
- 4.12.2The must-see 2 "Kaisho kazari (会所飾り)"
- 4.12.3The must-see 3 "Gion bayashi (祇園囃子)"
- 4.12.4The must-see 4 "On Hoko (鉾にのる)"
- 4.12.5The must-see 5 "Souvenirs (授与品)"
- 4.12.6The must-see 6 "Gosyuin (御朱印)"
- 4.12.7The must-see 7 "Paper lanterns of midnight (夜の駒形提灯)"
- 4.13Yoimiya sai (宵宮祭) 15th July
- 4.14Hiyori Kagura (日和神楽) 16th July
- 4.15Yamahoko parade (山鉾巡行) 17th July
- 4.16Shinko sai (神幸祭) 17th July
- 4.17Mikoshi Togyo (神輿渡御) 17th July
- 4.18Building Yamahokos (鉾山建て) 17th July
- 4.19Yoiyama of Sakimatsuri (後祭 宵山) from 21 to 23th July
- 4.19.1Recommendation 1 Byobu-matsuri
- 4.19.2Recommendation 2 "Kaisyo", the Yamahoko headquarters
- 220.127.116.11Koiyama 鯉山
- 18.104.22.168Hachimanyama 八幡山
- 22.214.171.124Kuronusiyama 黒主山
- 4.20Yamahoko parade (山鉾巡行) 24th July
- 4.21Hanagasa parade (花傘巡行) 24th July
- 4.22Kanko sai (還幸祭) 24th July
- 4.23Purification of water for rituals (神用水清祓式), 28th July
- 4.24Purification of portable shrine (神輿洗式), 28th July
- 4.25Nahoshi sai at Eki shrine (疫神社夏越祭), 31th July
- 5Mikoshi (Portable shrine) of Gion matsuri
- 5.1Naka goza (中御座)
- 5.2Higashi goza (東御座)
- 5.3Nishi goza (西御座)
- 6Yamahokos in Gion matsuri
- 6.1.1Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Naginata hoko
- 126.96.36.199What is Naginata hoko?
- 188.8.131.52What does "Naginata" mean?
- 184.108.40.206Naginata hoko never draws lottery
- 220.127.116.11Constellation on the roof
- 18.104.22.168Sculptures and paintings (金字極彩色図)
- 22.214.171.124Turning around at corner
- 126.96.36.199Where can we find Naginata hoko?
- 188.8.131.52Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Naginata hoko
- 6.1.2Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Kanko hoko
- 6.1.3Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Kikusui hoko
- 6.1.4Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Tsuki hoko
- 184.108.40.206Paintings of Maruyama Okyo「金地著彩草花図」
- 220.127.116.11Sculptures of Hidari Jingoro 破風蟇股
- 18.104.22.168Paintings of The Tale of Genji on "Ogi", fans 源氏物語 五十四帖
- 22.214.171.124Ohayasi music of Tsukihiko 祇園囃子
- 126.96.36.199Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Tusk hoko
- 6.1.5Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Niwatori hoko
- 6.1.6Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Hoko hoko
- 6.1.7Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Iwato yama
- 6.1.8Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Yuna hoko
- 6.1.9Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Yamabushi yama
- 6.1.10Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Moso yama
- 6.1.11Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Taishi yama
- 6.1.12Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Kakyo yama
- 6.1.13Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Hosyo yama
- 6.1.14Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Aubura Tenjin yama
- 6.1.15Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Shiho Kasa hoko
- 6.1.16Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Toro yama
- 6.1.17Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Hakuga yama
- 6.1.18Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Tokusa yama
- 6.1.19Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Arare Tenjin yama
- 6.1.20Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Hakurakuten yama
- 6.1.21Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Ashikari yama
- 6.1.22Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Urade yama
- 6.1.23Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Ayakasa hoko
- 6.2.1Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Kita Kannon yama
- 6.2.2Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Minami Kannon yama
- 6.2.3Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Kita Hashi benkei yama
- 6.2.4Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of En no Gyoja yama
- 6.2.5Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Koi yama
- 6.2.6Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Kita Hachiman yama
- 6.2.7Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Suzuka yama
- 6.2.8Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Kuronushi yama
- 6.2.9Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Jomyo yama
- 6.2.10Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Kita Ofuna hoko
- 7The next issue is.....
This article is the most precise guide on Gion matsuri festival in Kyoto; its schedule, history, route of Yamahoko parade, Yoiyama, souvenirs, and other must-sees.
Attention: This article is subject to be revised.
What is “Gion matsuri” festival ?
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.
The 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-kanshinin (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?
Let us make a small inspection, shall we?
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 God. Gozu-tenno was 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 Kanshinin (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
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 dump 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 god, 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 is to put the evil spirits together and descend them to the hokosand ask Gozu-tenno to get rid of them.
This ritual is called Gion-goryo-e, the original form 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 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 Kami(s) on the portable shrine(s) and ask them to get rid of evil spirits which hokos gathered around.
What to see in Gion matsuri festival?
Yamahoko Parade (山鉾巡行)
The hokos in Gion goryo-e 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 (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 2017
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.
Sijyo station (Kyoto municipal subway)
Karasuma station (Hakyu railways)
Shijo kawaramchi station (Keihan railways)
Schedule of Gion matsuri festival 2017
Nagoshi no harae (夏越の祓), 30th June
Before Gion matsuri, we have “Nagoshi no harae (夏越の祓)” on 30th of June. It based on a ritual of imperial court held in June and November. We pass through a big wreath of “Chigaya” and let it take away anything evil within us.
We eat “Minatsuki”, a Wagshi (Japanese traditinal confectionary) on 30th June. Many Wagashi parlor sell it only in June or July but we can have it at Fukueido 365 days a year.
I also recommend this “Dango” called “Gion no tsuki (The moon in Gion)” to you. You also have it there.
Kipu-iri (吉符入), 1st July
In Kaisyo, the headquarters of Yamahoko, Goshintai is prepared. Goshintai is an object to which Shinto Kami (a kind of God) descends. Every Yamahoko has Goshintai.
If a Yamahoko has Ohayasi, the Japanese traditional orchestra played in matsuri, the players start to practice it. (See video.This is the Ohayashi of Ofuna-hoko)
Decision of the order of Yamahoko parade (吉符入), 2nd July
Lottery decides the order of Yamahoko parade. The custom started in 1500 to avoid conflict on the order of the parade.
The order of 2017
Naginatahoko, Uradeyama, Mosoyama, Araretenji yama, Kankohoko, Hakugayama, Shijo kasahoko, Ashikari yama, Tsukihoko, Yamabushiyama, Aburatenjin yama, Taishiyama, Niwatori hoko, Tokusayama, Ayakasahoko, Toroyama, Kikusuihoko, Hakurakuten yama, Kakyoyama, Hosyoyama, Hokahoko, Iwatoyama, Hunahoko
Hashibenkei yama, Kita kannnon yama, Koiyama, Enno gyojya yama, Hachiman yama, Mimani kannon yama, Suzuka yama, Jyomyo yama, Kuronushi yama, Ofunahoko
Building Yamahokos, (鉾建て)10th July
The construction of Hoko
They start to built Yamahokos of Sakimatsuri. The construction of Yamahokos are very simple. Builders put wooden pillars together with only ropes.This art is called nawagarami (縄絡み). NO nails are allowed. Only ropes are available.
These are parts of Niwatorihoko. Take a look at black wooden blocks. Red Kanjis are written on them. The Kanjis indicates where each blocks ought to be. These blocks make diagrams for construction. For example, the Kanjis on the block in the bottom of the picture indicate “On the north side of the east face (of Yamahoko), 6.”
The parts of Yamohoko are in the warehouse near the headquarters.
The construction workers building the Niwatori-hoko with ropes and wedges.
These are the pictures of Kikusui hoko. Hoko has long horn called “Shingi (真木)”. The white line in the second picture stands for it. It is so long and heavy that hoko has pillars called “Kamuro bashira” (禿柱, in red line in the picture) which hold Shingi.
On the other hand, some Yamas don’t have the Kamuro bashira. Kita kannnon yama resembles in appearance, but different in construction.
The ill-balanced construction make hokos swing when they march.
The following are the dates each Yamahoko-building starts
Naginata-hoko, Kanko-hoko, Tsuki-hoko, Niwator-hoko, and Kikusui-hoko
Hoka-hoko and Funa-hoko
Purification of water for rituals (神用水清祓式), 10th July
Shinto priests of Yasaka shrine head for the river Kamo by way of Chugenji temple. On the Shijo bridge, they draw the water with traditional buckets. The water is called Shinyo-sui (Water for Kami) . Priests bring the water river bank and purify it with their prayers. In the evening, portable shrine is purified with it.
Shinto priests purify water for the purification of Mikoshi. They draw water with bucket on the Shijo bridge. The water was put into small wooden tubs and the priests take anything evil from the water.
Reception with paper lantern (お迎え提灯), 10th July
About 350 persons marching around the area of ancient Kyoto city and prepare for the portable shrines.
Purification of portable shrine (神輿洗式), 10th July
Mikoshi, a portable shrine heads for the Shijo bridge. Gion matsuri festival has 3 mikoshis and one of them, “Nakagoza” is purified on the Shijo bridge. It is purified there with the water the priests draw in the morning. After the torches, the portable shrine moves toward the bridge.
First of all, huge torches depart from Yasaka shrine. They make their way to Shijo bridge purifying the road where the portable shrine goes.
These torches are lit up with Okerabi (朮火). Okerabi is fire and is made on 28th of Deceｍber every year at Yasaka shrine. The fire is kept burning in main hall of the shrine and used in many rituals.
You may see the charcoal dropping from torches on the road. It saves you from bad luck.
The portable shrine was purified with the water on the bridge. Mikoshi is decorated with many ornaments but “Nakagoza” on this occasion doesn’t have them. It is very rare to see “raw” mikoshi.
After the purification, Nakagoza goes back to Yasaka shrine.
On the return to the shrine, Nakagoza was ornamented right now. We can see fully dressed Mikoshis at Yasaka shrine for a week.
Building Yamahokos, (鉾建て) 10th July
Building Yamahokos starts.
Aburatenjinyama, Asikariyama, Araretenjinyama, Kakyoyama, Toroyama, Uredeyama, Tokusayama, Hakugayama, Hakurakutenyama
Hikizome, (曳初め) 12th July
After the Yamahoko-building, they have test-runs. On this occasion, anyone can trail Yamohokos. (I trailed Kikusui-hoko and Naginata-hoko actually!)
Iki-Chigo of Nginatahoko pays a visit to Yasaka shrine. 13th July
Iki-Chigo (生稚児) is a boy considered and treated as a messenger of Kami (The center of the boys in the picture above.The boys of the both sides are kamuros.) He ride on the Naginatahoko on the day of Yamahoko parade. On the day, there is a rope which divides sacred and secular world. He cut off the rope and the parade starts.
In the days of old, many Hokos have Chigo but only Nginatahoko has Chigo these days. Other Hokos have Chigo figurine instead.
This visit is called Okrai morai because the shrine give him the same ranking as the feudal road.
Kuze Komagata chigos pay a visit to Yasaka shrine. (久世駒形稚児社参) 13th July
We have another Chigos. These boys called Kuze-Komagata chigo (久世駒形稚児). On the day of Mikoshi parade. They are treated as Kami himeself because they has Goshintai (An object which Kami descends to ) of Ayato Kuninaka shirine (綾戸國中神社).
Yoiyama of Sakimatsuri (前祭 宵山) from 14 to 16th July
Yoiyama of Sakimatsuri is one of the most popular event in .Gion matsuri festival. 16th of July is the most crowded day.
The must-see 1 “Byobu matsuri (屏風祭)”
As I indicated before, Yamahoko neighbors let you see inside of their houses and treasures.
The must-see 2 “Kaisho kazari (会所飾り)”
In Yamahoko headquarters, you can see Goshintai and ornaments of Yamahokos.
This is an ornament of Koiyama. You can visit to Koiyama headquarters during Sakimatsuri period though Koiyama belongs to Atomatsuri.
The must-see 3 “Gion bayashi (祇園囃子)”
During Yoiyama period, Each Yamahoko which has Obayashi begins to play them.
The must-see 4 “On Hoko (鉾にのる)”
You can be on Hokos.
The must-see 5 “Souvenirs (授与品)”
Each Yamahoko sells souvenirs like Chimaki and Tenugui hand towel. You better get them in the day time on 14th and 15th incase they are sold out.
The must-see 6 “Gosyuin (御朱印)”
“Gosyuin (御朱印)” is a stamp you can have when you visit shrine and temple. Collecting Gosyuin is very popular in Japan these days. In Gion matsuri festival, we can have special Gosyuin of Yamahokos!
A “Gosyuin book” is also available. You can buy it at bookstores and Yamahoko headquarters.
The must-see 7 “Paper lanterns of midnight (夜の駒形提灯)”
My recommendations are the nights of 14th and 15th. Around 10:00 a.m., most people came from outside of the city are on the way to home and the calm atmosphere arrives. In the heat of Matsuri night, we are brought away to somewhere we’ve never expected. Let us see the video below.
Yoimiya sai (宵宮祭) 15th July
Shinto priests brings the spirits of Susanoo-nomikoto (素戔嗚尊), Kusinadahime-nomikoto (櫛稲田姫命), and Yahashira-nomikogami (八柱御子神) into the three portable shrines called Mikoshi. This ritual so sacred that no one allowed to take pictures.
In complete darkness, the priests led by small paper lantern coming out of main hall of Yasaka shrine. I suppose they have small boxes in which the sprits of Karmis.(It is too dark to see. Every single lighting is shut down.)
They go to Buden where three Mikoshis stay and put the spirits into Mikoshis.
Hiyori Kagura (日和神楽) 16th July
Hayashikata (the musicians of Ohayashi) go to a place where Mikoshis stays for a week.
Yamahoko parade (山鉾巡行) 17th July
23 Yamohokos prade around the area of ancient Kyoto city to gather evil spirits.
The highlight of Yamahoko parade is Tsujimawasi (Turning around of Yamahoko).
Yamahokos are pulled by many people. Around wheels, there are some people to help them. When hoko is moving, men pushe wheels with sick and change hoko’s direction with something like oar.
Shinko sai (神幸祭) 17th July
In Shinko sai, The boy called Kuze komagata chigo leads one of the three mikoshis to the area of ancient Kyoto city.
He is the most important figure in Gion matsuri festival. He has a horse head in the breast. It is “Goshintai” which the spitit of Susanono-mikoto descends to. With the Goshintai, he is considered as Kami himself. He has a privilege to enter the field of the shrine on his steed even though members of the royal family have to get off a horse.
Shinto Kami has two aspects. The one is fierce aspect called “Aramitama (荒御魂)”. It brings us anything bad like disasters, famine, malady, and so on. The another is peaceful aspect called “Nigimitama (和魂)”. It bring us anything good like harvest, peaceful state of mind, and so on.
In Ayato kuninaka shrine, “Aramitama” of Susanono mikoto is enshrined and that of “Nigimitama” is enshrined Yasaka shrine. The both of spirits is put together and and prepare for calm down the evil spirits.
Mikoshi Togyo (神輿渡御) 17th July
The most important event in Gion matsuri festival. Three Mikoshis depart Yasaka shrine and head for Otabisyo, where Mikoshis will be placed. They took different ways to reach there. They stay there for a week and come back to Yasaka shrine.
Building Yamahokos (鉾山建て) 17th July
Building of Yamohokos for Atomatsuri starts.
Kita-kannnon-yama, Mimami-kannnon-yama, and Koiyama
Ennogyojya yama, Suzukayama, Kuronushiyama, and Jyomyoyama
Hachimanyama and Hashibenkei-yama
Yoiyama of Sakimatsuri (後祭 宵山) from 21 to 23th July
Strongly もんげー recommended ズラ！！！
As I indicated, Kami has two aspects and so Yoiyama is. Yoiyama of Atomatsuri carries on in a calm and quiet atmosphere. This reminds us of the traditional Gion matsuri festival took place hundreds of years ago.
Yoiyama starts when twilight arrives. They starts at almost the same time, but the sky is quite different. Enjoy the difference.
Recommendation 1 Byobu-matsuri
As I indicated before, Yamahoko neighbers open up their houses to the visitors during Yoiyama period. Byobu-matsuri in Atomatsuri is very stunning. It must take your breath away.
Recommendation 2 “Kaisyo”, the Yamahoko headquarters
Koiyama is based on an ancient Chinese anecdote that a carp climb up the fall called “Dragon gate” and became a dragon. The wooden carp is a Goshintai of Koiyama. It i s believed to bring us prosperity. It is an amazing work of Hidari Jingoro, a famous sculptor in Edo period.
Let us see a Koiyama. It is decorated with beautiful something like curtains. They are pieces of a tapestry made in Belgium around 17th century. When Date Masamune, a general in Tohoku region sent a mission to Pope, he gave the mission five tapestries. Koiyama bought one of them from a temple in Tohoku in 18th century. It was cut into nine pieces to put on Koiyama.
The tapestry shows us a scene of Iliad written by Homer. Gion matsuri has nothing to do with Torojan war. Why Iliad? The answer is very simple. They put the tapestry on Koiyama because it was new to them. Yamahoko has two roles. The one is to gather evil spirits and the other is to entertain Kamis come to the ancient Kyoto city on Mikoshi. The strange tapestry was suitable for the latter role.
Hachimanyama has a shrine emperor Ojin enshrined on it.
A pair of wooden doves right side are also made by Hidari Jingoro.
They are put on Torii gate.
These exquisite cranes are made in Edo period.
The goshintai is Otomo Kuronushi, a famous poet in Heian period.
We can see stunning carpets at Kuronushiyama.
Yamahoko parade (山鉾巡行) 24th July
On the day, the spiris of Kamis go back to Yasaka shrine. Yamahoko parade also take place anew. They took the opposite direction of the Yamahoko parade of Saki matsuri.
Hanagasa parade (花傘巡行) 24th July
Once Yamahoko parade of Atomatsuri was put together to that of Sakimatsuri , this Hanagasa parade introduced. Yamahoko parade devided into Sakimatsuri and Atomatsuri again i 2017, but Hanagasa parade was not abolished.
Kanko sai (還幸祭) 24th July
Three mikoshis come back to Yasaka shrine. Nakagoza goes there by way of Shinsen-en, where Ginomatsuri festival began some 1,000 years ago.
Purification of water for rituals (神用水清祓式), 28th July
The same ritual as held on the 10th of July is held on the Shijo bridge.
Purification of portable shrine (神輿洗式), 28th July
The same ritual as held on the 10th of July is held to purify three mikoshis.
Nahoshi sai at Eki shrine (疫神社夏越祭), 31th July
At Eki shrine, the sub-shrine of Yasaka shrine, people pass through Chino-wa put on to Torii gate and let evil spirits go away. We can have Chigaya plant and make Chinowa with it. Susanono-mikoto saves us from anything evil.
This ritual is the end of Gion matsuri festival.
Mikoshi (Portable shrine) of Gion matsuri
Naka goza (中御座)
The most important Mikoshi in Gion matsuri festival. It brings the spirit of Susanoo-no-mikoto.
Higashi goza (東御座)
It brings the spirit of Kushinadahime-no-mikoto.
Nishi goza (西御座)
It brings the spirit of Yahashira-no-mikogami.
Yamahokos in Gion matsuri
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Naginata hoko
What is Naginata hoko?
Naginata hoko is the most popular and famous Hoko in Gion matsuri festival. Let us make an inspection.
What does “Naginata” mean?
Nginata is a traditional Japanese sword invented in Heian period. Naginata hoko has long naginata on the roof and that is the reason why it is called “Naginata hoko (A hoko that has Naginata) .
The origin of the naginata dates back to Heian period. At that time, Sanjo Munechika, a famous sword smith dedicated a sword to Yasaka shrine praying for curing of his daughter’s illness. Rumors said that it cut off rope or hurt with only its shadow.
In addition to its sharpness, it was also known for its power to take away evil spirits. The pitcture above shows a figurine of Sanjo Munechika ornamented under the roof of Naginata hoko.
Naginata hoko never draws lottery
As indicated before, the order of Yamahoko parade was decided on the lottery but Naginata hoko is always at the top of the parade because of its ability put away evil spirits.
On the day of the parade, there are two bamboos across the Shijo street. These bamboos are connected by a rope called “Shimenawa”. Shimenawa is a rope which devides sacred and secular world.
When Naginata hoko approaches the Shimenawa, Ikichiho boy cut it off. This means it goes into a sacred world.
Every Yamahoko has tapestries around body. These of Naginatahoko’s were made in ancient China and has old Arabic scripts. That is the reason why Yamahoko is called “Moving museum”.
Constellation on the roof
On the roof, there are ancient Chinese constellation.
Sculptures and paintings (金字極彩色図)
The sculptures and paintings on the eaves. They are very impressive.
Turning around at corner
When Yamahoko turns around corner, it attracts many people.
They put bamboos under the wheels when Yamahoko changes direction.
Where can we find Naginata hoko?
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Naginata hoko
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Kanko hoko
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Kikusui hoko
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Tsuki hoko
Yamahoko is called “Movable museum”. Tsuki hoko is the most beautiful hoko among Yamahoko. Tea party were sometimes held on Tsukihoko in Edo period.
Paintings of Maruyama Okyo「金地著彩草花図」
Sculptures of Hidari Jingoro 破風蟇股
Paintings of The Tale of Genji on “Ogi”, fans 源氏物語 五十四帖
Ohayasi music of Tsukihiko 祇園囃子
Where can we find Tsukihiko?
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Tusk hoko
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Niwatori hoko
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Hoko hoko
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Iwato yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Yuna hoko
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Yamabushi yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Moso yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Taishi yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Kakyo yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Hosyo yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Aubura Tenjin yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Shiho Kasa hoko
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Toro yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Hakuga yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Tokusa yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Arare Tenjin yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Hakurakuten yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Ashikari yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Urade yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Ayakasa hoko
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Kita Kannon yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Minami Kannon yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Kita Hashi benkei yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of En no Gyoja yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Koi yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Kita Hachiman yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Suzuka yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Kuronushi yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Jomyo yama
Souvenirs and Gosyuin stamp of Kita Ofuna hoko
The next issue is…..
The next issue is on Ryoanji temple and the rock garden. Thanks for your reading!