Gion Matsuri is Kyoto's biggest festival. It began in 869 as a kind of purification ritual to appease the gods in response to a plague that was ravaging Kyoto, and was made an annual event in 970. It consists of many events spread throughout the month of July, but the climax is undoubtedly the procession of thirty-two ornate and impressive floats through the streets of the main business district. The floats are decorated with valuable tapestries and brocades, and the largest carry traditional artists and musicians. Smaller floats carry models of famous historical characters. The procession takes place on July 17.
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I came to Japan in 2003 to teach English. I lived in Shiga prefecture for one year, and it still holds a special place in my heart. I lived in Kyoto for nine years, then moved to Machida, Tokyo in 2014 after meeting my Japanese partner. I love to take photos, and my Japan in Pictures Facebook page has some 40,000 followers. I have been the Regional Partner for Yamanashi Prefecture since 2014. I am enjoying exploring the prefectures around Tokyo (I like to get off the beaten track), and I hope the photos and stories I share will encourage more people to discover this wonderful country.