Gion Festival 2012

July is the month of Gion Festival to stop the plagues during summer time. Troubles were believed to be caused by the violent deity Susanoo, the brother of Sun Goddes in Japanese mythology. Festival is to appease the spirit of Susanoo, who are enshrined at Yasaka Shinto Shrine.

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For 3 days before the highlight of Parade on 17th, all locals and visitors enjoy stroll into the town to visit floats to see the tresures of the community.

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Children in the community play an important role to attract visitors to get a special talisman for the household by chanting the phrases to sell. They are happy to be treated as one of the community member.

The Jidai Matsuri Festival

Jidai Matsuri Festival (Festival of the Ages), held on 22nd Oct.(23rd this year due to the rain), is to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of the founding of the capital in Kyoto. It unfolds like a brilliant picture scroll that showcases Kyoto through the ages.
Today, there are 18 different groups involving about 2,000 people in a dignified, richly costumed parade of historical figures. The procession begins with the latest period.

Meiji Period The Imperial Army with it's banner--The patriots of the Meiji Restoration
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Edo Period Tokugawa Shogun's Deputy payed a visit from Edo (today's Tokyo) to Emperor in Kyoto with 1,700 attendants
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A Shrine Maiden called Okuni performed a prayer dance which was the origin of Kabuki in Kyoto

Azuchi Momoyama Period Lord Toyotomi rides on an ox-cart to visit Emperor
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Muromachi Period

Heian Period Tomoe-Gozen, the wife of lord in men's armor courageously fought alongside her husband in battle. Heroines of Heian Period are performed by professional Geiko in entertainment district like Gion.

Tokiwa-Gozen, the mother of tragic hero, Yoshitsune--Lady Murasaki wrote the first novel in Japan
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Ono-no-Komachi, an outstanding poet renowned for her wit and beauty
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jidai18.jpg While men looks shy or tired with heavy armors, women and women's costumes always catch an attention of the people. It's better to include some perfomances by men...., or include samurai movie actors...

Daimonnji/Bon Buddhism Festival (2)

During Bon Buddhism Festival, we had family gathering together with the spirit of the deceased in the family. The time is limited, they return home on 16th. In order to let them know the time and place to return, we set up the firewood along the strokes of the Chinese character on the slope of the moutain, and light them at 8 o'clock at night. We have 5 mountains of that kind in Kyoto. Local people call this event Daimonji, pointing the symbol of 2 mountains among 5 mountains. It will be officially called Gozan no okuribi, fires on 5 mountains.

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okuribi7.jpg I sent the spirits of the deceased of my family off near Golden Pavilion Temple this year. I could see the fire at the close range. The spirits returned home over the mountain safely.
After this festival, our summer is supposed to be eased. Hopefully!

Bon Buddhism Festival

Bon Buddhism Festival is between 12th and 16th of August. We go to the area, which is regarded as border between this world and another world to invite the spirit of the deceased. This is because the area around Rokuharamituji Temple was the ground where the dead was abandand in the Medieval period. My mother went to pick up my father's spirit who passed away 3 years ago.

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She was so quick to follow the procedure-buy a branch of Koyamaki, ask the monk to write down my father's posthumas Buddhist name on a tablet.
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Pull the bell to welcome him to this world, place the tablet in front of the Jizo Bodhisattva, splash water with a branch of Koyamaki. Now the soul of my father is happily at home.
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Pottery Festival is taken place along Gojo,the 5th street at the same period.

Gion Festival

Gion Festival is taken place through the month of July. Its highlight is the parade of 32 floats in the midst of summer heat on 17th July.


While Kyoto was the capital of Japan, the whole country was stricken with the plague in as early as 869. The plague was believed to be caused by the curse of Susanoo, the Brother of the Sun Goddess in Japanese mithology. Therefore the Emperor sent the special messenger to Yasaka Shrine, where the spirit of Susanoo was enshrined, to pray for the immediate end of the terrible plague. Besides, he commanded Yasaka Shrine to erect 66 halberds representing the 66 provinces of the country to contain evil spirits by the parade of floats with halberd.

Although there was a period of suspension, Gion Festival has been always supported by local merchants, showing their passion to import and adopt distinguished ornaments from ancient China, Persia, Old Korea, Holland, France and other countris.

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Tour guide living in Kyoto

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