Japan 2016, Gion Matsuri

After a short stay in Tokyo it was time to catch the Shinkansen to Kyoto in preparation for attending Gion Matsuri.

Of course, we had to pick up a bit of lunch at Tokyo Station to take onto the train with us.

Lunch on the Shinkansen, Japan

Lunch on the Shinkansen, Japan

Lunch on the Shinkansen, Japan

Lunch on the Shinkansen, Japan

Once we arrived in Kyoto we had a bit of time to wander through a nearby temple on the way to our accommodation which resulted in a rather funny impromptu photo shoot with a stranger. Who knew that walking through a temple would result in someone asking if they can take your picture…

In the evening it was time to wander around the city area of Kyoto and check out the floats. There were street performances and in certain sections also the usual food and game stalls. It would be an understatement to say the crowds were crazy though. The crowds were INSANE. Gion Matsuri is one of the most famous festivals in Japan, and the crowds that attend are intense. There were people everywhere and the crowds stretched for basically all of the blocks that were displaying the main floats. That meant that yes, you were shuffling for literally hours to get through the crowds. The floats are on display for approximately 3 nights prior to the parade with the area around them reserved for pedestrians.

There are two types of floats for the festival, the Hoko Floats which you can see in the pictures below are the larger floats. They typically weight about 12,000 kilos and are about 25 metres tall with a large pole and decoration on top. It takes about 30 or 40 people to pull these floats. During the parade there are also smaller Yama floats which weight about 1,200 kilos, are about 6 metres tall and take about 15 to 25 people to move.

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