Kyoto, Japan

Gion Magic

My last days in Kyoto coincided with a large annual celebration called the Gion festival which is an ancient celebration to purify the city and ward off evil that had befell the city in the 800's. On the eve of the parade, known as yoiyama, Shijo-dori Street is closed to traffic and full of young men and women in their yukatas (summer kimonos), the large parade floats are illuminated with lanterns, and street vendors selling food. The place was a party and the party was hot and crowded- luckily there are a few choice Starbucks located along the walk to the Yasaka Shrine where they hold the theatrical performances and Taiko drumming.

The parade the following morning was an equally crowded affair although nothing compared to what it usually is from what I hear but it was entertaining to watch the 30 or 40 men pulling the massive wooden Hoko floats, which weigh a little over 26,000 pounds, try to turn them using only brute force and wet bamboo slats on the ground- old school!