Gion Matsuri in Kyoto, familiarly known as 'Gion-san'
14th - 17th July, 2016 | Yasaka-jinja Shrine, Gion-cho, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto City
Gion Matsuri in Kyoto is one of Japan's most famous festivals. First held in A.D. 869, it features a procession of 32 yamaboko floats supported on large wooden wagon wheels and pulled by teams of men, with musicians playing traditional Gion-bayashi music. The largest floats are the size of houses and are pulled by teams of 70 men. Some carry a complete a gong and flute orchestra and have a 60-foot-high halberd-shaped masts. The Gion festival has reportedly only not been held twice in its 1,100 years run (during the Onin War (1467-1477) and in 1943 during World War II)
Traffic is banned from the main streets in downtown Kyoto and people show up hours in advance to lay claim to prime viewing spots along Shijo Avenue where the procession takes place. The floats are decorated with tapestries from as far away as the Middle East and Europe, a holdover from when the festival was an opportunity for merchants to display their wealth. One tapestry was produced in Brussels in the 16th century. The floats continue to be constructed using traditional methods. Ropes band the timbers rather than nails. official website ›› http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/spot/festival/gion.html