Yamahoko Junko parade in Kyoto Gion Matsuri 2023


The Yamahoko Junko parade was held on a national holiday, so the number of spectators was quite large, about 150,000.


After leisurely watching the Yamahoko procession on live TV, I went to the goal area at Shinmachi Oike. So I found "Niwatori-hoko" was turning a corner. This float was 25 meters high and weighs as much as 10 tons.


"Niwatori-hoko" slowly moved southward along the narrow Shinmachi-dori Street. Each float would be dismantled as soon as it returned to its own town.
posted by toons at 14:38 | diary


Last day of Yoiyama, the preliminary festival of Kyoto Gion Matsuri 2023 


Tonight was Yoiyama, and since it was likely to be more crowded than yesterday, I went to visit some of the floats while it was still light.

"Hosho-yama," located at Higashinotoin Takatsuji, was rather empty since it was far away from the other floats. It was popular among young women as it had good luck in marriage.


The "Imitake" stood at the corner of Shijo Fuyacho. It was a green bamboo sakaki, about 15 meters high, used to tie a shimenawa (sacred rope) on Shijo Dori. It will be used for the ritual cutting of the shimenawa by the naginoko floats during the Yamaboko procession.


When the pedestrian zone opened at 6:00 p.m., the Shijo-dori street were quickly filled with visitors. The crowds became too much, so I ate early at a familiar Japanese restaurant and headed home. As of 9:30 p.m., there were approximately 340,000 visitors.
posted by toons at 23:59 | diary

Second day of Yoiyama, the preliminary festival of Kyoto Gion Matsuri 2023 


Last night, I went out to the second day of Yoiyama.

As you can see, Karasuma street, lined with food stalls, was crowded with many spectators. I was afraid of the crowd and left early.

The number of people on Shijo Street, where the big floats were lined up, seemed to be even harder with about 280,000 people as of 9:30 p.m. It was a good thing I went around yesterday.
posted by toons at 08:30 | diary


First day of Yoiyama, the preliminary festival of Kyoto Gion Matsuri 2023 


The Yoiyama period of Kyoto Gion Matsuri has begun. It is a three-day eve festival.

Last night, I went to see a bit of Yoiyama. There was rain forecast for the evening, but fortunately it did not rain until midnight.


So many tourists from overseas! The Shijo-Karasuma area was quite crowded, so I tried to avoid the dense areas as much as possible.


The main roads will be a car-free zone starting tonight, so it is going to be very crowded.
posted by toons at 11:27 | diary


Preliminary festival of Kyoto Gion Matsuri 2023 - Yamaboko assembly


The assembly of the Yamaboko floats for the Gion Matsuri began on Monday.

This is a shot of Kikusui-Hoko being erected before 9:00 a.m. The main framework has already been assembled. This can be assembled without nails, using only rope assembly.
This afternoon, all the decorations will be completed, and a trial pull is scheduled to take place.

Note the yellow netting on top of the utility poles along the street!
This is a sight that reminds us that the Gion Matsuri is about to begin, and it will be installed by July 1 every year to prevent electric shocks.
posted by toons at 14:39 | diary




June 30, the turn of the year, is "Nagoshi-Oharai" (summer purification).

This is a Shinto ritual to purge away the impurities of the past six months and pray for the safety of the remaining six months of the year.

After dark, I visited a small shrine in my neighborhood and went through the "Chinowa-kuguri," a special way of praying only on this day.
posted by toons at 23:58 | diary


First Aoi Matsuri in 4 years


The Aoi Matsuri festival, which was postponed to today due to rain, was held for the first time in four years.

I made time to go to the Kyoto Imperial Palace to see it. When I arrived, I was just at the latter half of the procession.


This elegant parade is composed of 500 people dressed as nobles and servants of the Heian Era, about 1,200 years ago.


The festival queen is the Royal Princess "Saiodai" carried on a palanquin, and about 30 nobles appear on horseback.

All participants wear hollyhock leaves on their heads and costumes. Carriages pulled by oxen are decorated with wisteria flowers and are gorgeous.


I noticed a particularly large number of inbound tourists. Other festivals are also returning to their pre-Corona mode, and Kyoto finally seems to be bustling with activity again.
posted by toons at 17:31 | diary


Blooming story of "Demizu-no-Sidarezakura" cherry trees in Kyoto Gyoen.

I look forward to seeing the "Demizu-no-Shidarezakura" in the Kyoto Gyoen National Garden every year.

Originally an early blooming cherry tree, and it begins to bloom the earliest in this garden. It is probably more than a week earlier than the Someiyoshino cherry trees in Kyoto City.

So, let's look back at the blooming in chronological order.

- 3/11

Slightly pink buds, on the verge of blooming.

- 3/18

Blessed with warm weather, they are almost in full bloom.

- 3/25

The flowers have almost fallen off. People's attention shifted to other cherry blossoms in full bloom.

- 4/9

The flowers have completely changed to fresh greenery. It is sad to see that no one seems to pay attention to this cherry tree anymore.

This year was the fastest ever, with the cherry blossoms in full bloom in mid-March. I missed it because I was away from Kyoto at the time. I asked my family to go and see it, but I still wanted to see it in full bloom.
posted by toons at 22:57 | diary


Gion Shidare sakura


I reached the Gion Shidare Sakura (big weeping cherry tree) in Maruyama Park, Kyoto, before the lights went up. Unfortunately, it was cloudy with occasional showers.


When it started to get a little dark, the lights started to turn on. The pink colour of the Gion Shidare Sakura is a complete change from the brightly lit blossoms. As the night falls a little later, the beauty of the cherry blossoms will deepen.
posted by toons at 22:56 | diary


Spring flowers started to bloom in Kyoto Gyoen


The spring-like weather invited me to take a walk in the Kyoto Gyoen National Garden for the first time in a while.


The plum trees planted here and there were just at their best.


The plum trees in the plum grove were also in full bloom.


The weeping cherry trees around the creek in Demizu were still in bud, but the winter cherry trees that had been blooming all winter were beginning to fall.


Peaches in the peach grove are beginning to bloom.


The weather has been very warm, so the early weeping cherry trees will be in bloom by the end of this week. I am very much looking forward to it.
posted by toons at 22:55 | diary