Kyoto’s Month - Long Gion Festival Approaches Climactic Finale

Kyoto’s month-long Gion Festival approaches climactic finaleExcitement is building as the month-long Gion Festival, one of the nation’s most celebrated festivals, prepares over the next few days to revive a tradition for the first time in 49 years.

About 40,000 spectators could be seen as of 11 p.m. on July 21 in the central area of the ancient capital during this transitional period leading up to the “atomatsuri” (latter part of the festival), according to Kyoto prefectural police.

The crowd was smaller than earlier in the event in part because no roadside stalls were set up.

Onlookers gazed at the glowing lanterns of Yamaboko floats, traditional folding screens and a number of ancient artifacts on display at community halls and old family residences throughout the city.

During the atomatsuri, which will be held July 24, a procession known as the Yamaboko Junko Parade will showcase 10 floats, including a replica of the Ofune hoko float that has not been seen by festival-goers in 150 years. Karasuma-Oike in central Kyoto will be the starting point for the parade.

The Gion Festival kicked off July 1 and will end July 31.