On what is no doubt Japan's largest street party - the three consecutive nights in Kyoto prior to the climax of Gion Festival, on July 17 - is about to kick off. On those three nights - each of those three nights - hundreds of thousands of revelers will be out and about.
The first of the "Yama" nights is Yoiyoiyoiyama （宵々々山）. The next night, July 15th, is known as Yoiyoiyama (宵々山) . The climax is the night before the parade on the 17th and is called Yoiyama (宵山). A typical turnout on the final night is 300,000 - 500,000 people
On each of these three nights, most of downtown Kyoto is closed to vehicular traffic. Moreover, the massive floats that are pulled around the city on July 17th are put out on display in the areas they represent, all of which are close to Shijo - Karasuma.
Streets are filled with stalls selling food - yakitori (barbecued chicken skewers), taiyaki, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, traditional Japanese sweets - and carnival games for children.
Many come dressed in yukata (a light cotton summer kimono). Old and young come with fans, Japanese purses, and other traditional gear as they enjoy the evening strolling around the central part of the city.
Last, in certain areas. private houses open their entryways to the public to exhibit valuable family heirlooms. This custom dates back centuries and is known as the Byobu Matsuri, or Folding Screen Festival.
For those arriving on a bicycle, park along Oike Dori. Then walk. Don't even think of cycling in central Kyoto on these nights.
Tags Japan Touring Kyoto Cycle Japanese