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gion matsuri

Holy Water

The August 15th issue of Jinja Shinpō included a substantial article about the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto. This is one of the largest and most famous matsuri in Japan, with roots going back over a thousand years, and it happens over the course of July. It is the main matsuri of Yasaka Jinja, and the centrepiece, as far as most people are concerned, is two processions of elaborate floats, called “yamaboko”. I have written about it before, because it had to be radically altered to respond to the pandemic —… Read More »Holy Water

The Gion Procession

As I have mentioned before, the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto is normally one of the biggest matsuri in Japan. It runs for the whole of July, and includes several large processions, including mikoshi and large decorated floats. This year, due to COVID-19, things have had to be done a bit differently. The matsuri traces its origins back to 863, when a matsuri, called a “goryōë”, was held in the Shinsen’en (“Gardens of the Spring of the Kami”) in Kyoto to appease the angry spirits (goryō) that were believed to be… Read More »The Gion Procession

The Gion Goryōë

The Gion Matsuri is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, matsuri in contemporary Shinto. It takes place every summer in Kyoto, with massive processions of decorated floats, called Yamaboko, and also involves processions of mikoshi. The float processions are thought to symbolically purify the city before the mikoshi, carrying the kami, also process, and the procession of the kami is thought to increase their power before the final ritual that closes the week of ceremonies. It is one of the main tourist attractions in Kyoto, and it is… Read More »The Gion Goryōë