The most famous of all the festivals in Japan, the Gion Matsuri dates back to 898.
Kyoto has three main festivals each year, but possibly the most popular, most colorful, and most dramatic is the Gion Matsuri. In fact, this is perhaps the most beloved festival in the entire country.
The festival atmosphere grows throughout the month of July as the people of Kyoto don their best yukata (summer kimono) and parade through the streets of the city center, visiting food stalls and game stalls every night. The peak of the festival takes place on July 17 with a huge procession of traditional wooden yamaboko floats. The floats are huge (up to 25 meters high and 12 tons in weight) with large wooden wheels and luxuriously decorated. Each float represents a different neighborhood and a different theme, pulled by teams of local men and boys.
The Gion Matsuri dates back to 898 when it began as a religious ceremony to ask the gods to keep the city safe from disease and natural disasters.
InsideJapan can reserve reserved tickets for the main Gion Matsuri parade so you have a perfect view of all the action from the comfort of a seat.
When to go: The main parade takes place on July 17.