Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Kyoto Gion Matsuri 2015

Date of Travel: 16-18 July 2015

We were fortunate enough to visit Kyoto in July 2015 due to a slight "bug" in Airasia's booking system which enabled us to fly from KUL-Osaka, return, for RM257 nett per person. Since it was that cheap, die-die must go, we were there for just 2 nights to catch the Gion festival! We were also very lucky to secure rooms at the Toyoko Inn Kyoto Shijo Karasuma, which has front row view of the festival. "Lucky" means everyday must check hotel booking website for cancellations, until the day I departed. Cost per room was approximately RM300/night. Had I not gotten it, my backup hotel was RM900/night during this super peak season.

Gion Matsuri takes place throughout the month of July, but the epicentre of it is on 17 July where there will be a procession of floats along Shijo to Kawaramachi. I don't know much about the customs, but it was fun seeing the ever busy Shijo turn into a street carnival. Throughout the 3 days, I was hounded by a whistling sound. They play an instrument that sounds like a whistle when the procession goes by. In the spirit of Gion Matsuri, these are repeated over the speakers on Shijo throughout the festival period. The sound can even be heard from my room, and I end up having nightmares of whistling.

On the night before, 16 July, Shijo turns into a pedestrian street and I had fun looking for the floats.

There are barricades in the middle, that stopped us from getting to our hotel entrance. Need to walk 500m to go around it

There are platforms leading into the float

I'm not sure how, but visitors can get onto the float itself. Perhaps by donation or in kind?

It rained on 17 July 2015. The procession moved at a painstakingly slow pace. Every float had to have a handover to the next section, and turning a float is quite a chore too. Enjoy the float photos!
Eagerly waiting for the first float

The best view is from the 1st floor of Tokyu Hands. Only the privileged can get up there

Photographers eagerly waiting the first handover

Since it was so crowded and rainy, I happily sat at my hotel lobby to watch the procession

HH in her raincoat, last photo before we head off

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