Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri is a festival filled with traditional flair that’s sure to please any visitor to Japan. Starting on July 1 every year, the festival runs for a full month. The rhythmic sound of the Kane bells being played by the Hayashi performers are one of the many memorable scenes that you can experience at Gion Matsuri.
Starting with the highlights, like the Yamaboko-junkō parade during the “Saki-matsuri” on July 17, and the “Ato-matsuri” on July 24, crowds of people visit the various pre-festivals, called “Yoi-yama”, all throughout the month, enveloping Kyoto in a red-hot festival atmosphere!

What is the Gion Matsuri?

The Gion Matsuri, one of the Three Great Festivals of Japan, is one of the festivals held at the famous Yasaka Shrine. During the Heian period, there was a plague sweeping across Japan, which was originally thought to be a curse. The festival was then held to placate the evil spirits responsible for it.
With a proud 1,150-year history, the festival is known far and wide for its long history, extravagance, and for being held for a full month. As a festival that has walked through thick and thin with the city of Kyoto throughout much of its existence, it holds a special place in the hearts of the people of Kyoto.

Getting to the Gion Matsuri: Access

Easily accessible from Hankyu Karasuma Station, or the Kyoto City Subway Karasuma-Oike Station.

2022 Gion Matsuri main event schedule

Gion Matsuri is scheduled to be held in 2022, however the exact schedule is not yet confirmed.
Information below is based on previous years.
(Please note that not all events may be running in 2022.)
July 1 to 18: Kippu-iri
July 2: Kuji-tori-shiki ceremony
July 10: Lantern reception and Mikoshi purification
July 10 to 14: Saki-matsuri – Building of the Yamaboko floats
July 12 and 13: Saki-matsuri – Yamaboko Hikihajime parade
July 14 to 16: Saki-matsuri – Yoi-yama and Byobu Matsuri
July 17: Saki-matsuri – Yamaboko-junkō parade and Shinkōsai
July 18 to 21: Ato-matsuri – Building of the Yamaboko floats
July 20 and 21: Ato-matsuri – Yamaboko Hikihajime parade
July 21 to 23: Ato-matsuri – Yoi-yama and Byobu Matsuri
July 24: Ato-matsuri – Yamaboko-junkō parade, Hanagasa-junkō parade, and Kankōsai
July 28: Mikoshi-arai-shiki ceremony
July 31: Ekijinja-nagoshisai

Top 8 things to see at the Gion Matsuri

1. Prayers for a smooth festival

The “Kippu-iri” on July 1 marks the start of the Gion Matsuri. Various stakeholders in the Yamaboko district gather and pray for the smooth running of the festival, and meetings regarding the festival are held as well.

2. The Kuji-hiki, a ballot which determines the float order during the Yamaboko-junkō parade

To decide the parade order during the Yamaboko-junkō parade, represent…

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