Sunday, 5 February 2017

Japanese summer festivals: Yoiyoiyama at the Gion Matsuri, Kyoto

Kyoto Gion Matsuri
Gion Matsuri is one of Japan's biggest festivals, and it's held in Kyoto. The festival involves huge rolling carts, called Yama and Hoko, which are set up in central Kyoto (around Shijo) and pulled around town in a huge procession (Yamabokojunko) on the day of the festival. This year, it fell on a weekend, with the main procession on Sunday so apparently it was going to be even busier than usual. The night before the procession (yoiyama) and the night before that (yoiyoiyama) the carts are lit up and millions of people go to see them. There were also tonnes of food stalls (yatai) and people in summer yukata so it was a really cool experience of the 'festival' atmosphere. However, if you're not a fan of crowds, be warned: literally millions of people visit the Gion Matsuri. 


The streets were milling with hundreds of thousands of people and although there were directions, it was still a little chaotic. Gion Matsuri

Gion Matsuri

Gion Matsuri

Gion Matsuri lanterns

Gion Matsuri lanterns

Kyoto Gion Matsuri

Gion matsuri lanterns

gion matsuri lanterns

Kyoto Gion Matsuri

There were tonnes of food and drink stalls to choose from, along with stalls selling masks and kids toys. I ate shaved ice and Okonomiyaki <3
Gion Matsuri Yatai

Gion Matsuri Yatai

Gion Matsuri Yatai

Kyoto gion matsuri
 The side streets around Kyoto were really quiet in comparison with the millions (literally) of people on the main streets.
Kyoto side streets

We wandered through Nishiki market too:

Kyoto Nishiki market

Kyoto side streets

Gion matsuri shijo

Gion Matsuri Kyoto

The carts were huge, and lots had men inside playing music. The poles on top were actually really tall too!

Gion Matsuri Kyoto

Gion Matsuri Kyoto

Gion Matsuri Kyoto


Gion Matsuri Kyoto

Gion Matsuri lanterns

Gion Matsuri Kyoto

Gion Matsuri Kyoto

Gion Matsuri Kyoto

Gion Matsuri Kyoto

Gion Matsuri Kyoto

Gion Matsuri lanterns

Gion Matsuri lanterns

Gion Matsuri lanterns

Gion festival kyoto

Gion festival kyoto

Gion matsuri

Emily wore a yukata and she looked so cute!
After Gion Matsuri, we went a little out of town to Ibaraki and then spent all night at Karaoke. Perfect end to the night.


It may be busy as heck and kind of stressful, but I'd definitely recommend going to a huge festival like Gion Matsuri. Tenjin Matsuri or one of the big Kyoto ones. One of my bucket list festivals is to see a Nebuta lantern one up in Tohoku. I also was lucky enough to go to the Tenjin Matsuri in Osaka, so stay tuned for my post on that. <3
Thanks for reading! -Amy xoxo

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