Home Events - Exoteric Japan Japanese Cultural Calendar July in Japan Gion Festival (Kyoto City) 祇園祭り ぎおんまつり
Japanese Culture, Japanese Cultural Calendar, Gion Festival in Kyoto, People pulling the giant mikoshii along the streets of Kyoto.


Jul 01 - 31 2025


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Gion Festival (Kyoto City) 祇園祭り ぎおんまつり

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How It All Started

In the year 869 there was an epidemic in the newly built city of Heian (today’s Kyoto). There was a religious parade to appease the gods. This parade was held thereafter annually and became today’s Gion Festival.

The Two Big Days

July 17th and 24th are the days when the cyclopian 25 meter high (82 feet) floats are rolled through the streets. The bigger of the two days is July 17, from 9 am to 1 pm, when 23 of the giant shrines are paraded about. On the 24, from 9 am to 11:50, only 10 go on parade.

A Month of Gion Festival Events

July 1 – 31 (dates are subject to change)

Two processions will be held, with the Saki Matsuri, or Pre-Festival Procession on the 17th (With 23 yamahoko floats), and the Ato Matsuri, or Post-Festival Procession on the 24th (With 10 yamahoko floats.).

July 1st-18th

Kippu-iri, held in each Yamahoko neighborhood

Signifying the beginning of the rituals, meetings will be held for the festival during Kippu-iri.

July 1st

Naginatahoko O-sendo Shrine Visit at Yasaka Jinja Shrine, 10:00 a.m.

Leaders in each Naginatahoko neighborhood will visit Yasaka Jinja Shrine with the “chigo” (a “sacred child” who performs several duties throughout the festival) and other children chosen to sit in the famous Naginataboko float this year, where they will pray for the safe completion of the festival rites.

July 2nd

Kujitori (Lottery) Ceremony at Kyoto City Hall, 10:00 a.m.

The order of the festival procession will be determined by lot.

July 2nd

Shrine Meeting of Float Groups at Yasaka Jinja Shrine, 11:30 a.m.

Prayers will be held at Yasaka Jinja Shrine for the safe completion of the festival.

July 10th

Lantern Reception 4:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

In preparation for the purification of Yasaka Jinja Shrine’s mikoshi (a portable shrine), a procession will leave the shrine along a path of paper lanterns.

Mikoshi Purification at Shijo Ohashi Bridge, 8:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Yasaka Shrine’s mikoshi are carried to Shijo Ohashi Bridge, where they are ritually purified with water from the Kamo-gawa River.

July 11th-14th

Saki Matsuri, or Pre-Festival: Yamahoko Float Construction

July 12th-13th

Pre-Festival: Yamahoko Float-Pulling Trials

July 13th

Naginatahoko Sacred Child Visits Yasaka Jinja Shrine, 11:00 a.m.

The chigo (sacred child) chosen to sit in the Naginatahoko float will visit Yasaka Jinja Shrine to pray for the safety of the festival procession.

Kuzekoma-gatachigo Sacred Child Visits Yasaka Jinja Shrine, 2:00 p.m.

The “koma-gatachigo” (sacred child) chosen from the Kuze district in south Kyoto will visit the shrine.

July 14th-16th

Saki Matsuri, or Pre-Festival: Yoiyama

Leading to the climax of the festival

Byobu, or Folding Screen Festival

July 15th

Performance of Traditional Arts at Yasaka Jinja Shrine’s Noh Theater, 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

July 16th

Tea Offering Ceremony at Yasaka Jinja Shrine, 9:00 a.m.

This service is provided every other year by the Omotesenke and Urasenke schools of tea ceremony.
Iwami Kagura Music Performance at Yasaka Jinja Shrine, Beginning at 6:30 p.m. (As currently planned)

July 17th

Yamahoko Float Procession, Saki Matsuri, or Pre-Festival Procession

Beginning at Shijo Karasuma at 9:00 a.m., continuing to Kawaramachi-dori Street and Oike-dori Street

Shinko-sai Festival, 4:00 p.m.

Mikoshi Transfer Ceremony

Traveling from Yasaka Jinja Shrine to Shijo, 6:00 p.m.
Yasaka Jinja Shrine’s three mikoshi, or portable shrines, will be transferred to their new temporary shrine on Shijo-dori Street in a procession through the shrine’s local district. Popularly known as “Omikossan,” the event is lively and popular with the locals.

July 17th-23rd

Silent Prayer at the Mikoshis’ Temporary Shrine

It is said that those who travel to these locations and pray silently for seven days will have their wishes granted.

July 18th-21st

Ato Matsuri, or Latter-Festival: Yamahoko Float Construction

July 20th-21st

Ato Matsuri, or Latter-Festival: Yamahoko Float-Pulling Trials *Festivities held on the 21st are

observation only.

July 21st-23rd

Ato Matsuri, or Latter-Festival: Yoiyama and Byobu, or Folding Screen Festivals

July 23rd

Sencha Kencha Tea Festival at Yasaka Jinja Shrine, 9:00 a.m.

Tea ceremony services will be provided by the head of a Kyoto Sencha (a kind of Japanese tea) school.

Biwa (Japanese lute) Performance at Yasaka Jinja Shrine, 1:00 p.m. (As currently planned)
A performance with biwa (Japanese lutes) will be held.

July 24th

Yamahoko Float Procession, Ato Matsuri, or Latter-Festival Procession

Beginning at Karasuma Oike at 9:30 a.m., continuing to Kawaramachi-dori Street, and on to Shijo-dori Street

Hanagasa, or Flower Umbrella Procession
Beginning at 10:00 a.m. from Yasaka Jinja Shrine to Kyoto City Hall, and back to Yasaka Jinja Shrine

Kanko-sai Festival

Beginning at 5:00 p.m. at mikoshi locations on Shijo-dori Street, traveling to Yasaka Jinja Shrine
The three mikoshi portable shrines temporarily kept on Shijo-dori Street will begin their return to their shrine in a procession traveling throughout the shrine’s district.

July 25th

Kyogen and Noh at Yasaka Jinja Shrine Noh Theater, 1:00 p.m. (As currently planned)

A performance will be given by the Shigeyama Noh Theater Troupe.

July 28th

Mikoshi Purification Ceremony at Shijo Ohashi Bridge, 8:30 p.m.

As on the purification ceremony held on the 10th, once the mikoshi portable shrines have been purified, they will be placed into storage.

July 29th

Festival Summation at Yasaka Jinja Shrine, 4:00 p.m.

The end of the Gion Matsuri Festival will be announced before the deity of the Shinto shrine.

July 31st

Nagoshisai Festival at Eki Shrine, a sub-shrine of Yasaka Shrine, 10:00 a.m.

A sacred reed ring will be set up at the torii gate to Eki Jinja Shrine, within the grounds of Yasaka Jinja Shrine, through which people will pass to ward off misfortune.


In English


And and especial thanks goes out to…


In Japanese

Photo thanks to Kasuga Sho @ Flickr

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