I’m wrapping up my coverage of Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri with three photos of very young men who participate in Hanagasa Junko on July 24. The first photo features three chigo (Celestial Children) who ride on horses during the Flower Hat Procession. The second photo focuses on a performer in the Heron Dance, which can be seen at Yasaka Shrine on July 16 at 5:00 p.m. and after Hanagasa Junko around 1:30 p.m. The third photo shows one of the many children who help to pull portable shrines during the parade. He is dressed similarly to the men who participate in Mikoshi Arai and other festival events.
Along with Iwami Kagura (July 16), my favorite event of Gion Matsuri is Hanagasa Junko, the Flower Hat Procession, on July 24. Hanagasa Junko begins at 10:00 a.m. at Yasaka Shrine, but much of the action for photographers takes place in the hour before the parade starts when many of the participants pose for pictures like the two woman featured here. As the name implies, many of the participants in Hanagasa Junko are wearing some kind of hat with flowers. There are several portable shrines in the procession as well, but these are pulled by groups of children, not men as is the case at all the main events of Gion Matsuri. …
Mikoshi Arai is another lesser-known event of Gion Matsuri that is well worth attending. It is held every July 10, and the three portable shrines that play an important role in the festival’s ceremonies are purified by a Shinto priest. Men carry the shrines and these burning logs of bamboo from Yasaka Shrine to Shijo Bridge and back.
When most people think of Gion Matsuri, they think of Yoiyama (July 14-16) and Yama Boko Junko (July 17), but there are many other fantastic events connected to Kyoto’s month-long festival, including Mikoshi Arai (July 10); Hanagasa Junko (July 24); and my personal favorite, Iwami Kagura (July 16). Although Iwami Kagura is performed at Yasaka Shrine every year, it’s roots are in Shimane Prefecture, not Kyoto….