Monday, July 18, 2005

Gion Matsuri - Yoiyama

During yoiyama, the night before the main parade, people flocked into the night streets and the festival drew hundred thousands of people to the ancient city of Kyoto. It is a crowded time to travel. No doubt the festival is legendary.
Festival-goers dress in yukata (light summer kimonos). Before heading for the busy streets, we gathered at our friend's house and had dinner together (Left, Nattha and right, Ton).
It was some sort of a Malaysian-Thais outing. After dinner, we headed to the Karasuma street. First time Gion festival-goers would be overwhelmed by the crowd scene and it is definitely possible to be lost in the crowd. Looking for your friends, who left you alone can be a painful experience.
Festival floats decorated with dimly lit paper lanterns - simply stunning.
In modern times, electric cord and battery operated paper lanterns are used instead.
During the evening of yoiyama, some of the Kyoto old houses display their household treasures such as the beautifully decorated fabrics.
Many of these tapestries decorating the floats come from a long-established merchant in Kyoto. But some are produced using techniques imported from Korea, China, India, Persia and Belgium. Some of the patterns even depict figures from the western myths and legends, therefore giving the festival an international flavor.
During the yamahoko junko, symbolic gods (such as the one shown in the above picture) are paraded through the streets to spiritually purify the city and to pray for continued growth and good health.
I am not sure the significance of this event during the yoiyama. But I think it is a portable shrine, wheeled through the night streets between Shijo-dori and Sanjyo-dori. Music played and chanting performed to pray to the gods for good health.
Another highlight of the festival is the street stalls featuring food as well as toys and games.
Who says only a taste of japanese menu in japanese festivals. Sold here was some sort of an Indian roti.
If you are lucky, you may be able to bargain for some cheap but quite reasonable quality goods (such as cheap yukatas).
Shown here is some sort of a toy - the yo-yo water balloons. Female festival goers, on their right hand holding their cute little japanese handbag and their left flinging the yo-yo water balloon. Isn't that cute ?

During the yoiyama, one can enjoy several traditional dances such as the Heron Dance (check here : Matsuri Magic Part 1).


Acrix said...

NAttha looks sweet :P Do they display swords as household treasures as well? At the bon odori in shah alam, there;s this yoyo water ball also selling at a price of rm 10 if i;m not mistaken :P

Anonymous said...

Looks like you guys had a great time! I went on Friday and I didn't relish the thought of walking around the place again with the ever increasing crowd and humidity! Instead I went out walking with Gan along the Philosophy Path. Despite the heat and the ongoing yoiyama, there were still many visitors to that place. But yoiyama was fun and for those planning to come to Kyoto, plan your trip to coincide with this event. You won't regret it :)

P/S Why didn't the rest dressed up in yukatas? Especially Pear cause she was the one who org this??

Amanda Brightwell said...

It's almost a shame to break the water ballons... they are so cool looking.

Primrose said...

Wah, if I'm there means I'll wander about like a little kid already. You all will have trouble looking for me among the crowd. Kekeke! So many things to see - so colourful, so many things to see, so cultural, so interesting. Tweaks my sense of sight, sense of touch and sense of smell. Where food is, you'll see me. So hold my hand tight tight or else...

Patrick Leong said...

acrix : nattha ? she is gorgeous. she is a japanese language teacher in thailand. swords ? i miss that. i am not sure. yo-yo water balls for rm10 ? that's expensive.

ailing : yea. we did have some great time looking for a missing friend. i wonder how is gan, in fact we should have a small gathering among malaysians. so far, this is my best gion festival. i wonder if i can participate in the parade. i want to pull the hoko. we were a little lazy to dress up in yukatas. pear dressed up in thai costume. pretty.

amanda : yea. the water balloons were cool but expensive.

primrose : the first time (3 years ago) i got lost in the crowd. i couldn't find my friend for a good 1/2 hour. i was fuming because they left me behind. but actually it was my fault. because i was busy with my pictures. snapping here, snapping there.

emotionalistic said...

I like tha yo-yo water balloon...i find it very unique. Have not seen it before. Do you play it like the normal yoyo??

Eddie said...

nice picture..
but enough for GION matsuri

Patrick Leong said...

emotionalistic : not really a yo-yo. a rubber string is applied around the neck of the balloon to make a knot. one just fling the balloon up and down.

eddie : yea. i guess i will not write about gion masturi again. unless if next year i get to participate in the parade, well then i want to blog again.

Lrong said...

Good shots... not easy to take matsuri pics with tens of thousands people rubbing shoulders with you...

Patrick Leong said...

lrong : you bet. big crowds mean no using tripod. therefore photos become a little crappy. ah, but we did take one group picture using tripod.

Anonymous said...

great story and captures. Thanks