Introducing Gion Matsuri | Stunning Scenery of Japan | Japan Highlights Travel, for sightseeing around Tokaido

Gorgeous yamahoko floats add color to the Kyoto summer

Amid the reverberating Gion festival music, gorgeously decorated yamahoko floats are hauled along, paraded by crowds of people. When the yamahoko floats reach the corner of an intersection, the highlight of the Yamahoko Junko procession known as "tsuji-mawashi" (the turning of the floats) begins. The yamahoko float comes to a stop over green bamboo laid on the ground with water sprinkled over it, and is gradually turned in three or four pulls making for a spectacular sight. Gion Matsuri has a history of over 1,100 years and comprises various Shinto rituals held over a one month period. The dynamic, elegant movements of the yamahoko floats carry this history forward and endlessly fascinate their audience.

※ Views like the one shown in the photo can only be seen under certain conditions (time of day, weather etc.).

  • Viewing period:
  • Every year from July 1st to 31st
  • Challenge level:
  • ★★☆
  • Feeling:
  • Overwhelming

Travel advice

Among the various events held during the one-month period of the festival, some of the most popular include the pre-festivals Saki no Matsuri's Yoiyama events from July 14th to 16th, and the Saki no Matsuri Yamahoko Junko on July 17th. There's also the post-festival Ato no Matsuri Yamahoko Junko on July 24th. If you don't want to miss the tsuji-mawashi, early booking of the paid spectator seats for the Yamahoko Junko on show in either the Saki no Matsuri or the Ato no Matsuri is recommended. The tsuji-mawashi points are near Yasaka Shrine and Shijo Karasuma.

The pleasure of travel: Gion Matsuri

The main venues of activity during Gion Matsuri are Yasaka Shrine and areas around the Shijo-dori. Along the Shijo-dori, there are many department stores and commercial buildings offering great shopping for assorted luxury goods and Kyoto specialties. In addition, you'll find kimono rental shops for both men and women, so one fun idea is to take a stroll around Gion wearing kimonos. Kyoto is a treasure trove of real traditional foods like the local specialty nishin-soba, for instance. Gion Matsuri is also called "Hamo Matsuri" (literally "pike conger festival") since the fish forms such an essential part of Kyoto's summer seasonal flavors. Savor them along with the festival.

Yume Kyoto in Gion

Sohonke Nishin-soba, Matsuba

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Stunning Scenery

    1. 39
    2. Kakegawa Station
    3. [Kakegawa Omatsuri]
    1. 38
    2. Kyoto Station
    3. [Gion Matsuri]
    1. 37
    2. Gifu-Hashima Station
    3. [The Wisteria of Takehana Betsuin]
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    2. Mishima Station
    3. [Mt. Fuji and dried radish]
    1. 35
    2. Shin-Fuji Station
    3. [Nightscape of factories]
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    2. Atami Station
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    2. Shin-Osaka Station
    3. [Shinsekai]
    1. 31
    2. Mishima Station
    3. [Old Hakone Highway Cedar Avenue]
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    2. Nagoya Station
    3. [Shirotori Garden]
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    2. Shin-Osaka Station
    3. [Osaka City Central Public Hall]
    1. 28
    2. Gifu-Hashima Station
    3. [Statue of the Eleven-Faced Kannon]
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    2. Toyohashi Station
    3. [Toyohashi's Tezutsu Hand-Held Firew...]
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    2. Nagoya Station
    3. [Inuyama Castle]
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    2. Odawara Station
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    2. Mikawa-Anjo Station
    3. [DENPARK]
    1. 22
    2. Shizuoka Station
    3. [Nihondaira]
    1. 21
    2. Shin-Yokohama Station
    3. [Shomyo-ji Temple]
    1. 20
    2. Kakegawa Station
    3. [Dream Suspension Bridge Across Suma...]
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    2. Hamamatsu Station
    3. [Ryugashido]
    1. 18
    2. Tokyo Station, Shinagawa Station
    3. [Tsukiji Hongan-ji Temple]
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    2. Kyoto Station
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    2. Shin-Fuji Station
    3. [Shiraito Falls]
    1. 15
    2. Shin-Osaka Station
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    1. 14
    2. Mishima Station
    3. [Shoji-bori in Yamanaka Castle Ruins]
    1. 13
    2. Mikawa-Anjo Station
    3. [Unryu no Matsu in Eian-ji Temple]
    1. 12
    2. Tokyo Station, Shinagawa Station
    3. [Roppongi Hills Mori Tower Tokyo C...]
    1. 11
    2. Gifu-Hashima Station
    3. [Painted ceiling of Hongaku-ji Temple]
    1. 10
    2. Odawara Station
    3. [Pampas grass at Sengokuhara]
    1. 09
    2. Toyohashi Station
    3. [Ikobe Beach]
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    2. Nagoya Station
    3. [Nagoya Castle]
    1. 07
    2. Atami Station
    3. [Atami Sun Beach]
    1. 06
    2. Shizuoka Station
    3. [Mt. Fuji from Yoshiwara]
    1. 05
    2. Shin-Yokohama Station
    3. [Minato Mirai seen from Daikoku Ohashi]
    1. 04
    2. Kakegawa Station
    3. [Shiosai-bashi]
    1. 03
    2. Kyoto Station
    3. [Fushimi Inari Shrine]
    1. 02
    2. Hamamatsu Station
    3. [Nakatajima Sakyu]
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    2. Shin-Fuji Station
    3. [Double-diamond Fuji on Lake Tanuki]

updated on Mar 24, 2016