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Gion Matsuri 2013

Gion Matsuri, the festival of Yasaka Shrine, is the most famous festival in Japan. It takes place over the entire month of July. There are many different events, but two are particularly renowned: the Yamaboko Junko, a procession of floats on July 17th; and Yoiyama, the festive evenings preceding the procession.

Gion Matsuri,
The word Yamaboko refers to the two types of floats used in the procession: Yama, of which there are 23, and hoko, of which there are 9. One of the main reasons the Gion Matsuri is so impressive is the enormity of the hoko, which can be up to 25 meters tall, weigh up to 12 tons, and are pulled on wheels as big as people. Both yama and hoko are elaborately decorated and represent unique themes.

Another reason for the festival's impressiveness is its long and almost uninterrupted history. It dates back to 869 as a religious ceremony to appease the gods during the outbreak of an epidemic. Even today, the festival continues the practice of selecting a local boy to be a divine messenger. The child cannot set foot on the ground from the 13th until after he has been paraded through town on the 17th.

Gion Matsuri,
Gion Matsuri,
How to get to Nara from Guest House kyoto.

Miyakoji Rapid Train
Miyakoji Rapid Service
From Kyoto Station, both the JR Nara Line and the private Kintetsu Kyoto Line will get you to Nara quickly. The Kintetsu Nara Station is better located than the JR Nara Station, and all-reserved Tokkyū trains leave Kyoto twice an hour, making the run to Nara in 35 minutes. On slower but more-frequent Kyūkō services, the trip takes about 50 minutes and you may need to change trains at Yamato-Saidaiji Station. The trip costs 610JPY, plus 500JPY extra on the Tokkyū. For Japan Rail Pass holders, JR's Miyakoji Kaisoku runs during mid-day hours from Kyoto to Nara in 45 minutes (690JPY, no charge with rail pass).

Nara Park
Todaiji Temple
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