Feel the local energy during Yoiyama for Ato Matsuri of Gion Festival
Text: Hiroki Hayashi / Photo: Yuki Sato
The parade of Yamahoko Junko had again been held separately during the Saki Matsuri (the first festival) and Ato Matsuri (the latter festival) from 2014, on July 17th and 24th. Yamahoko (procession of portable shrine) carries out the god of Yasaka Shrine around the City on Shinko-Sai event on the 17th, and back again on the Kankou-Sai event on the 24th to the Shrine.
The Yoiyama event (festival eve) for Ato Matsuri may look a bit humble since there will be no night markets and the road traffic will be as usual. But this is how it has always been, humble and quiet.
(Hachimanyama Kaisho of Ato Matsuri)
Kaisho is a base point that each yamahoko procession has that exhibits the procession and its decorations, selling chimaki (rice cake wrapped in bamboo leaf) and towels and even offering stamp service that can be collected at each kaisho.
I have been born and raised in Kyoto, but have only experienced Yoiyama of Ato Matsuri for 2 years. Anyhow, here are some things I recall from my experience taking around a friend from Osaka when we decided to visit Ofunehoko, that played a key role in reviving the Saki & Ato Matsuri tradition.
Ofunehoko's wheel had been burnt during the big fire of 'Hamaguri gomon no hen' (Hamaguri Gate Rebellion) in 1864. Since then, it had only exhibit the surviving parts of procession and decorations without taking part in the parade. It was only from 1997 that they started to rebuild the procession, and finally had got back in the Yamahoko Junko parade from 2014. This was after 150 years.
Ofunehoko is bigger than other processions brought out during the festival. We had the chance to step onto the procession, and had a great moment listening to the festival music right in front of us. No need to state how excited my friend was.
Ofunehoko is restoring its decorations every year. This year, it's the dragon's head at the front that will be renewed. Please don't miss this.
There are 2 other processions that are still waiting for the day to be back in the parade, Takayama and Hoteiyama. Takayama got its musical accompanist formed in 2013 and is preparing to get back on the movement. There is also a drama in those resting processions, too.
COntact: Public Utility for Gion Festival Preservation Associations http://www.gionmatsuri.or.jp/ (chose your language at the bottom of the top page)