July 19, 2011

Hottest Day in Kyoto

July 17th is always  the hottest day in Kyoto. The thirty two floats are paraded through the city. The excitement of the people seems to accelerate the increase in temperature.  This parade  is part of one-month-long Gion Festival, one of the three greatest festivals in Japan.

Before 9 o'clock,  the floats are waiting for the start. The biggest floats are 25 meters in height and 12 tons in weight.  Mid-summer heat and the festive spree  are soaring up.

This young boy is the icon of the festival of this year. He plays an important role as the divine starter of the festival. For 10 days before the parade, he has not be allowed to stand directly on the ground.

 The floats are decorated with gorgeously embroidered or woven  tapestries and carpets, and beautifully painted cloths. No wonder, they are nicknamed  "Moving Art Museum".
This is a 10cm deep embroidery.

Every float has a high pole attached on the top
where the deity is believed to descend.


Many children are joining the festival. How wonderful it is that through participation, they learn the tradition handed down from generation to generation, and nurture the love toward their local communities.

The Musicians play rhythmical music in drums, Japanese flutes and small gongs. Each float has each special music.  A long strand with a tassel at the end is attached to a small drumstick to hit the gong.  So, every time the musician hits  the gong,  the strand  dances together. I love these lovely dances very much.

The high mid-summer sky is over a  float in the shape of a ship. This float is my favorite.

They use such simple pieces of wood to correct direction of the float or stop it.  No float has a brake or a helm.

Hot, hot, hot. In the scorching summer heat, I feel as if I were melting. 

For three days before July 17th, some houses exhibit  the  folding screens which they have preserved as family treasures. Also we can see the wisdom to withstand notorious Japanese summer in  the traditional Japanese houses. They have exchanged some windows with bamboo blinds and put down  summer carpets.

This time also, I used another camera. 

About the origin of the festival,  please read my former blog, "1200 Year Old Pride of Kyoto People, Gion Festival"

Visit My World to learn more about our world!!


  1. i can only imagine how hot it must be to watch and be IN that parade! what an honor for that young boy to serve as the host of the parade, but wow, to not be able to stand on the ground for 10 whole days beforehand! thank you for this interesting and beautiful post!

  2. How I wish I could see this amazing and wonderful sight, at the same time as a Japanese person explains what it all means. I would love to see the floats and the wonderful old decorations ,and the people in their ancient style costume. I wonder how the special boy is chosen - it must be a great honour.
    I wouldn't like the heat though. I find I am less and less able to cope with heat. Does it never rain on this day? I get the impression that Japanese summers are much hotter than ours.

    Thanks very much for posting this interesting stuff.

  3. I always learn so much when I visit your blog! it's interesting that the little boy is not allowed to stand on the ground for 10 days before. you've captured the beauty of this festival, and the colors. but more than that, the spirit of it. thanks for sharing snowwhite. it's been a pleasure. I hope you have a fun week, and stay cool!

  4. Nice shots, that looks like an amazing festival.

  5. I don't envy you the heat, but what a fantastic festival! Your photos and the information you have included are wonderful and what a delightful read! Thank you for sharing the beauty, the color, the fun! Enjoy your week!


  6. I can feel the heat in your photos! The beauty and intricacy of the floats is wondrous. I love the reflective photo of the sky and city when the ship passed in front of the widows. Stay cool!

  7. What a wonderful post!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

  8. I think we love a parade world over, especially when it is rich with local history. It was interesting to learn that the boy designated to start the parade did not stand directly on the ground for 10 days! The exceptional heat can be difficult but probably preferred over rain at such a spectacular event. Spirits must also be high in Japan after its exciting soccer win! Congratulations on this awesome achievement!!

  9. Once again, you have captivated me with your photos and explanation of the parade. Very interesting that the young boy cannot touch the ground for 10 days. I wonder how hard that is for a boy of his age. I wish I could be there watching the parade and having you to explain it to me in person. It would be magical!

  10. I am so happy to see this event through the eyes of a native Japanese person - the floats are beautiful, and your narrative places me there. I can even feel the heat, which is so good; I know what that feels like from being in the Southeastern USA, but wish that I could feel it in Japan!

  11. The heat wave was conveyed through your magical photos.
    The floats are really "Moving Art Museum" as you mentioned.
    It was OK for coming back in a too crowded train?

  12. i could feel the energy and excitement of this parade while reading your narrative. the floats are incredible, details stunning. i enjoyed this post very much. thanks for sharing your world.

  13. Those are amazing floats!

  14. I didn't know that God descend the long pole on the roof of the float.Come to think of it, those floats has long pole.
    Also, rhythm of gong is different depend on float,isn't it?
    It was very hot this year,too but it's good before typhoon.

  15. I can feel the heat rising from the pavement. A pity the festival is held at such a very hot time of year, I know it is the nearest time to mid-summer but . . .
    So nice to see children involved. It is so important to carry on the old traditions.

  16. So much lovely tradition in these wonderful shots!

  17. would love to see this festival. I really like the participants' costumes, intricately detailed and beautifully designed. It's also nice that the tradition involves the participation of children to help sustain this beautiful culture. My World is here.

  18. I wished I could see this life !
    Can you send a little of your heat over, we are freezing in Belgium ! That's summer !

  19. Keiko,this is a beautiful and interesting post and lovely sequence of images.Thank you so much for staying out in the heat to share this.

    Enjoy your day!

  20. 京都の祇園祭はさすがにすてきですね!


  21. Jenny Woolf,
    Every special boy has been chosen from the very rich families. It costs a huge amount of money to serve as the icon. Besides, the family and the boy have to follow many strict rules. For example, father takes care of the boy, because mother is not allowed to take care of him for some days before the festival. It is very strange for me that the certain rituals related to Shinto do not allow women to join or be involved in them, even though supreme deity of Shinto is the Sun goddess.

    To serve as the icon gives a lot of pressure not only to him but also to his family. But it is a great honor and a great pleasure.

    I came back sooner to avoid getting on super crowded train.

  22. 1ondoncalling,
    奈良直撃といわれていたのですが、幸いなことに雨だけで済みました。でも、和歌山県など浸水したり、土砂崩れがあったりで大変だったようです。 このところゲリラ豪雨的な雨が多いですね。

  23. Summer of Kyoto...
    The passion of people reaches me.

    Thank you.
    Have a good weekend.

  24. Exquisite workmanship. I would love to see the embroidery in person. I cannot imagine keeping a boy off the ground for so many days! He must be very obedient. :)

  25. It's a very interesting and bright event!
    Thank you for sharing. A lot of impressions!

  26. Gorgeous series of matsuri photos during Gion festival. I wish I could join someday:)
    I did not know that the float is that big!!!
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  27. What a festive, colorful celebration. Fun for all!!! Mickie :)

  28. I really adore the stories that you tell! I learn so much. The floats are absolutely amazing! And there is so much history and meaning behind the floats, I really love it! But the poor boy looks like he wants to jump into a pool :D

  29. Thank you for sharing your insight into your beautiful world. I felt as though I were at the parade. It is very hot in my part of the world as well I cannot imagine sitting and watching such a parade go by.

  30. Lovely parade, Keiko! So many colorful float and beautiful costumes. Wonderfully captured! Thank you for continuously sharing your world with us! :) *hugs*

  31. Amazing post... The boy must be so lucky, he must not touch the ground, thats interesting too...
    I learn so much here, from your own words... Love the colors, the festive spirit of festivals... Have a fabulous week ahead:)

  32. Fascinating Pictures.
    It has been delightful
    to visit your gallery.
    Good Creations

  33. The floats are exquisitely decorated. With all this color, the music and the people this must be a very dynamic event. I wish I could see it but with your photos I feel that I have seen a bit of it. Thank you for these two interesting posts.

  34. I am Japanese. It cannot so speak English. Please forgive me.
    Thing that this festival started to prevent epidemic by 1000 years or more
    However, whats are 12 tons 25 meters and weights as say by height are the surprises in the largest float.
    Paradise Flowers that wakes up from the sleep of 2,000 years of Popular Posts on a right side is a surprise, too.
    This Hottest Day in Kyoto is wonderful the work of snowwhite.
    The photographic technology of snowwhite is very the enjoyment of the improvement whenever times are piled up.

  35. Oh my, it looks like a message I left here did not appear. I have heard there were some problems with comments. I forgot everything I said, lol but do remember that I love your photos. They have such beauty, elegance and wonderful colour. I look forward to more photos from you and learning more of your graceful culture.

  36. Joyful,
    Sometimes, Blogger’s system has not worked well and made users frustrated.

  37. Beautiful festive colors of celebration.

    Joy and passion.

    Have a nice day Snowwhite

  38. Hi Snowwhite,
    These are extremely beautiful pics... Very colorful and we are very lucky to be able to witness this through your post...
    Have a fabulous day:)

  39. This is such an interesting post!
    Thank you for the opportunity to see such wonderful moments! Indeed,keep the brilliant and beautiful photos coming.

  40. Hi Keiko, I gave you an award, friend. Come pick it up from my site. *hugs*

  41. i have plan to visit kyoto thos november assuming my sis manage to get her leave approval

  42. Hello Keiko - hoping for a new post soon...we miss your wonderful stories! And, who is this Maraca link that seems to have taken over the bottom of your post with all those links back to her page??

  43. Every time I see these pics I am amazed at the costumes, the colors, the vibrancy...
    Just love festivals like these, so enjoyable... Bring so much happiness in our lives...
    Hope you are having a fabulous week:)

  44. お元気ですか? 夏休みご家族皆様でお過ごしの中、お忙しい事でしょう。ようやく落ち着いた季節になりつつありますね。超~暑い京都の夏を過ごした方々もひと息つけたかしら? 新しい季節のお知らせお待ちしています。

  45. The festival of the ancient city is universal.

    My post of last week was influenced by Yosui Inoue.

    There were youth and future in that time.
    Yes, it was the good times...

  46. The embroidery is very impressive! I can't imagine how it's made.

    I like it that in the last picture there are two white girls in Japanese yukata and two Japanese girls in Western clothes :)

  47. Ekaterina,
    Thanks a lot for visiting. I was exactly interested in what you said. Kyoto is a mysterious city where new and old, modern and traditional, and more are standing side by side!


Thanks a lot for visiting my blog and leaving warm messages. I will visit your site soon. keiko