Float Assembly Begins for Saki-Matsuri of Gion FestivalHammering Sounds Echo throughout Kyoto City
Float assembly began in the central area of Kyoto City on July 10, one week before the Yamahoko float procession of "Saki-Matsuri," or the former festival of the Gion Festival which will be held on July 17. The bases for the huge floats are being joined using "Nawa-Garami," or a technique of fastening components using straw rope without using any nails.
After the cessation of the heavy rain that had fallen since early morning and in the muggy heat, each community began working on their respective floats, "Naginata Hoko" float, "Kanko Hoko" float, "Tsuki Hoko" float and "Niwatori Hoko" float. As carpenters called "Tetsudai-Kata" and "Sakuji-Kata" assembled components marked "southeast" or "southwest," hammering sounds from near the intersection of Shijo and Karasuma Streets echoed through the concrete jungle. Spectators avidly watched the carpenters' skillful handling of the ropes.
"Kiyoharai no Gi," or a purification ritual, was performed for "Naginata Hoko" float to purify its components and tools and pray for safety.
All 23 floats for the Saki-Matsuri were completed by July 14. Performance of "Hikizome," or first pulling of the floats, for "Naginata Hoko" and other four floats occurred on July 12 near the intersection of Shijo and Muromachi Streets, and on July 13 for three floats on Shinmachi Street.(Translated by Mie Hiuzon, Psyche et l’Amour, Inc.)