Summer in Japan is always full of festivals, also known as matsuri, where everyone dresses up in yukata (informal kimono) and gathers together for parades, and food and game stalls pop up along sidewalks, creating hustle and bustle in every street corner.
Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri comes out among the top summer festivals in Japan, boasting a history of over 1000 years. In fact, it’s become so big that its coverage is no longer limited to only Gion district. Yasaka Shrine has become the center of the matsuri, and sprawls the whole Kyoto city. While the food and game stalls will be around for the whole of July, the highlights of the festival are held on 17th and 24th, where grand parades and processions will be carried out. Yamahoko, held on 17th, is the greatest climax of the matsuri, features a long procession of sedans and dance, and passes through the big streets of Kyoto from Shijō, Kawaramachi, Oike and Shin-machi Oike.
Apart from parades and food, former aristocrats of Kyoto also offered to put up their family treasures for exhibition, so this matsuri is also a great chance to immerse yourself in Japanese culture!
Although the festival is free to attend for everyone, the processions usually attract great crowds, so advance tickets are available for those who want to get the best viewing positions possible. It might be wise to get those tickets if you want to enjoy the festival with ease!
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