Japanese City Guides:
Yoiyama Festival, Kyoto (July 16th)
Yokohama I Sapporo
I Niigata I
Saitama I Shizuoka
I Osaka I
Kobe I Oita
I Kyoto I
Nagoya I Hiroshima
Yoiyama: Kyoto's Magical Night 宵山
Every year on the night of July 16th Kyotoites turn out in their cotton
summer kimonos - yukata - to look at the famed Gion floats that
will be used in the Festival the following morning.
The night before Gion Matsuri (festival) is in many ways far superior
to the tourist crush under sweltering skies that is the actual festival.
On the night before, the famous floats--the "Hoko" that will
pass by far in the distance on festival day--are on display in the streets
in the neighborhood northwest of Shijo-Karasuma.
Large sections of downtown are closed to automobile traffic for several
nights preceding July 17th, and stalls selling chicken, beer, fried octopus,
trinkets for children, and more are set up.
Young people come in groups or on a date; families come to show off their
children; and older people make an evening of it.
In addition to the floats on display during Yoiyama, the "kon-chiki-kon"
of Gion-bayashi music can be heard and children chant short songs to attract
customers for the talismans they sell. Traditionally, people who live
in this part of downtown open up the front parts of their homes and shops,
allowing passersby a look at their valuable heirlooms: byobu
- painted screens, kimono, armor, textiles, decorative
folding fans, etc.
Yoiyama Festival Access
From Kyoto Station, take the Karasuma Subway Line two stops north to
Shijo Karasuma Station (which is also on the Hankyu Line for Osaka).
Maps are available in the station or at any exit. Follow the crowds.
Alternatively, for a more gradual introduction to the vast crowd - Yoiyama
Festival is certainly not for the claustrophobic - exit at Oike Subway
Station, one stop north of Karasuma Station and follow the crowds south.
Kyoto Rail Map
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