Don't Miss Out on Kyoto's Signature Summer Celebration

Massive floats, extravagant costumes, food, drink, and more at one of Japan's most famous festivals

Kyoto's Gion Matsuri festival is not just the highlight of the Kyoto summer─it's one of the most defining events of its kind in all of Japan. Dating back to 869 and associated with Kyoto's famous Yasaka Shrine, it lasts for nearly the full month of July, with festivities to enjoy day and night.

Watch ornate and impressive yamaboko floats, standing up to 25 meters high and weighing as much as 12 ton as they are pulled through the city. Travelers looking to secure the best views can reserve seating in advance for a fee, though plenty of visitors opt to take their chances along the route. After nightfall, wander the streets─illuminated by lanterns to form an otherworldly scene─in search of Gion-bayashi festival music and merriment at the so-called "Yoiyama" evenings on July 14-16 and 21-23.

Check your calendar to ensure you don't miss the special events, or explore the city at any time during the festivities to soak up the atmosphere. However you choose to experience it, Gion Matsuri promises to enchant you with the history and tradition of Kyoto.