Carrying with the Beauty and Spirit of KyotoAto-Matsuri Float Procession of Gion Festival24 July 2016 - Sightseeing/Events
The Gion Festival's "Ato-matsuri," or latter festival, float procession, took place around the center of Kyoto City on July 24. Decorated with gorgeous ornaments, the 10 Yama and Hoko floats carrying their floats' deity figures, each with great individuality, proceeded through the auspicious avenues of Kyoto. Spectators lining the streets applauded the "moving museum" floats, which were imbued with the local people's inherited spirit.
At 9:30 a.m., the parade's leading Hashibenkei-yama float, which is a "Kujitorazu," meaning a fixed position float, headed east at the Oike-dori Karasuma, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto. The eyes of onlookers focused on the figures of Benkei and Ushiwaka-maru. Following this, the Kita-Kannon Yama float from which a pine tree called "shin-matsu" swung, the Jomyo Yama float carrying an acrobatic figure, which showed a scene out of "The Tale of the Heike," passed by. Oike-dori Street resounded with the "Gion-bayashi" festive music, which was played on the Yamahoko floats, and the chorus of cicadas falling from a row of Japanese zelkova.
In the "Kuji Aratame" ceremony held in front of the Kyoto City Hall, the gathered crowd cheered the unique movement of untying the string of the lottery box with a folding fan. At the intersections, "Tsuji Mawashi," or the massive Yama and Hoko floats' ninety-degree turns, attracted a lot of attention. The tail end "O-Fune Hoko" float advanced, with "Ryuto," or a wooden, dragon-shaped figure, at the bow for the first time in about 150 years.
The float procession paraded through central Kyoto City clockwise, flowing from Oike-dori Street, through Kawaramachi-dori Street, and then to Shijo-dori Street. As the festival date fell on Sunday, approximately 100,000 visitors, or 40,000 more than last year, gazed intently at the procession along each street, according to the Kyoto Prefectural Police.
The float processions are one of Japan's Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties. There are a total of 33 floats, among which, the ten floats of the Ato-matsuri group paraded this day.(translated by Galileo, Inc.)