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Gion Matsuri's Festival Music Bands

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Gion Matsuri's Festival Music Bands

 

A father teaches his son the muscial traditions of this top Kyoto festival

Kyoto City Tourism Association

 

 

Held annually throughout the month of July, Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri is one of Japan’s largest and most famous festivals. The festival highlight is the Yamahoko Junkō, processions when on two days - 17 and 24 July - elaborately decorated floats pass through downtown Kyoto. The parades move in time with the slow, yet entrancing, music played by the hayashikata groups of musicians riding on the high, veranda-like float platforms.

 

There are over thirty floats in the festival, each belonging to a neighborhood community, and each with at least five hundred years of history. A member for many years of the hayashikata team for the Kankoboko float is Nishiura Yoshinori who, for the 2021 festival, was joined by his son Teruki who is in the first grade of elementary school. The hayashikata musicians are essential in setting the rhythm and tempo for the processions as well playing a vital role in livening up the festival, entertaining locals who gather for the pre-procession events throughout July.

 

The Nishimuras are part of a centuries-old tradition of passing down from the older to younger generation the music of Gion Matsuri. In this way the members of the hayashikata are tied by deep bonds, much like an extended family.

 

How to get there

 

The main festival parade route can be reached in a 4 minute walk from Shijō Station on the Karasuma subway line, or by a 4 minute walk from Karasuma Station on the Hankyū Kyoto railway line.

 

 

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