The Gion Festival takes place annually in Kyoto and is one of the most famous festivals in Japan. It goes for the entire month of July and is crowned by a parade, the Yamaboko Junkō on July 17. It takes its name from Kyoto’s Gion district.
During the yoiyama evenings leading up to the parade, some private houses in the old kimono merchant district open their entryways to the public, exhibiting valuable family heirlooms, in a custom known as the Byōbu Matsuri, or Folding Screen Festival. This is a precious opportunity to visit and observe traditional Japanese residences of Kyoto.Kyoto’s downtown area is reserved for pedestrian traffic on the three nights leading up to the massive parade. These nights are known as yoiyama on July 16, yoiyoiyama on July 15, and yoiyoiyoiyama on July 14. The streets are lined with night stalls selling food such as yakitori (barbecued chicken skewers), taiyaki, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, traditional Japanese sweets, and many other culinary delights. Many girls dressed in yukata (summer kimono) walk around the area, carrying with them traditional purses and paper fans.
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