It is said that the highlight of the Gion Festival is ‘Yamahoko Junko’ (Yamahoko Grand Parade).
Yamahoko Junko consists of Saki matsuri (Former festival) on July 17th and Ato matsuri (Latter festival) on July 24th every year.
In this year, 220,000 spectators invaded Saki matsuri as being the last day of the 3 day weekend.
I will report Saki matsuri, one of the highlight of the Gion Festival,which is called ‘moving art museum’! The sunlit gorgeous and artistic Yamahoko were breathtakingly beautiful under the blue sky.
At 9:00, Naginata hoko, which is the leading float, left Shijo Karasuma street. When it reached Fuyacho street, the Chigo (sacred boy) cut a Shimenawa (straw rope) with a sword and the parade officially began.
The order of the procession of yamahoko is decided by lot every year.
However, Naginata-hoko, Kanko-hoko, Houka-hoko, Iwato-yama and Fune-hoko don’t join the drawing a lot to decide the order of the procession. Those called ‘Kujitorazu’ which has been decided the order since ancient times.
One of the the highlight of yamahoko junko is ‘Tsuzi mawashi’.
‘Tsuzi mawashi’ is the turns of hoko floats at intersections. People pulling Hoko prepare split bamboos and water in order to change direction forcibly, because Hoko floats move only in straight lines.
It was an anxious moment when the tall and heavy Hoko floats change the direction.
The scene of Tsuzi mawashi with energetic calls excited us!!
In former festival, 23 yamahoko floats paraded with beautiful Gion-bayahi music.
It was really gorgeous and lively!
The cooperation of many people necessary for the parade and there are some kind of roles.
・Hikite …Person who pull Hoko according to the Ondotoris’ direction.
・Ondotori…Person who give a direction of the progress of the Hoko
・Yane-gata…Person who control swinging of a tree and avoid obstacles such as electrical wires
・Hayashi-gata…Person who play Gion-bayashi music on the Hoko
・Kuruma-gata…Person who ajust the corse and take a charge of Tsuzimawashi
Gion Festival is beautiful and historical festival that Japan boasts about to the world. Gion-bayashi music and energic calls are inspiring for your soul!
Ato matsuri (Latter Festival) is held on July 24th.
You will be able to feel a different a atmosphere from Saki matsuri.