Kyoto Gion Festival 京都祇園祭: Yoiyoiyama Street View from Tsuki Hoko 月鉾から見る宵々山の景色

View of Yoiyoiyama Street from inside the Tsuki Hoko float
View of Yoiyoiyama Street from inside the Tsuki Hoko float / Photo by author


English: From July 14th, Kyoto entered into the yoiyama phase of the Gion Festival. The evening before the float processions on July 17th and 24th is called yoiyama, such as today July 16th. The evening before that (ex: yesterday July 15th) is called yoiyoiyama (2 yoi or evenings before) and the evening before that one (July 14th, for instance) is called yoiyoiyoiyama (3 yoi or evenings before). This phase of the festival attracts tourists from all over Japan and the world, including those from neighboring Osaka and Hyogo Prefectures, who come to tour Yasaka Shrine, the yama-hoko floats that are all open to the public, and the streets with food, beer, and souvenir vendors.

I took this photo at 6:30pm just before entering the top level of the Tsuki Hoko float, when the public and acquaintances of the hoko members are allowed to go inside the Tsuki Hoko neighborhood association building and ascend to the float’s second level. This is where the Gion bayashi musicians play, and about 10-12 musicians were inside with me and other people in a space that would accommodate 50 musicians on the 7/17 procession.

The white lanterns shown on the right side are lit when the streets become dark. On the lanterns the kanji character tsuki is written stylistically to indicate the name of the hoko  and the name of one of the hoko‘s sponsors located in the neighborhood, the Bank of Kyoto.

Shown on the street level in the middle, is the Tsuki Hoko float’s sales tent. Every year, the Tsuki Hoko recruits women volunteers to dress in the white and red miko (shrine maiden) dress and to sell chimaki and other Tsuki Hoko goods such as hand fans and cloth banners.

This year, it had rained the previous evening and the cooler weather anticipated more festival visitors than usual. At 6:30pm, the streets were already packed with visitors, many wearing yukata and who are constantly moving in straight lines on what is normally the road for vehicles. The police was already enforcing one-way movement on the road on each side, waving lit red batons and calling out repeatedly on megaphones: “Please advance forward in one direction!”


この写真を撮った時は、午後18時30分ごろであり、月鉾 (つきほこ)の「二階」に入る直前前でした。宵山の時期に、一般人と町内会の方のお知り合いが鉾の保存会に入って、鉾に上がれることになります。上がれる場所は、祇園囃子(ぎおんばやし)が演奏するところです。その時、約10-12人の囃子方が私と別の見学をしていた人と同じ所に一緒にいました。7月17日に、いわゆる先の祭りの巡行の時、この場所は約50人の囃子方が入ることになります。







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