Of all the festivals which dot the Japanese calendar, the Gion Festival of Kyoto is probably the largest and most colourful and was held on July 17, watched by tens of thousands of Japanese and foreign visitors tot the old imperial capital.
GTV PAN CROWDS LINING STREETS
LV FLOATS ALONG STREET
SV MEN PLACE STICKS ON GROUND AT CORNER OF STREET
GV THE LARGEST FLOAT "THE HALBERD" BEING TOWED
TV THE "HALBERD" FLOAT STUCK AT CORNER
SV STICKS ARE PLACED UNDER WHEEL
LV FLOAT IS TOWED AROUND CORNER
CU WHEEL STARTS TO MOVE
CU SMALL BOY HELPS TO PULL
SV PAN. ANOTHER FLOAT PAN UP
SV MEN IN NATIONAL COSTUME SITTING ON FLOAT
GV PROCESSION AND MASS CROWDS
SV AMERICANS LOOK ON
GV FLOATS IN PROCESSION
Initials DS/S/AW/CS DS/S/AW/PC
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Background: Of all the festivals which dot the Japanese calendar, the Gion Festival of Kyoto is probably the largest and most colourful and was held on July 17, watched by tens of thousands of Japanese and foreign visitors tot the old imperial capital.
The festival originated in 869 A.D., when a procession was staged through the streets of the city by priests of the nearby Yasaka Shrine, in an appeal to the gods to end a plague which had claimed hundreds of lives.
The procession subsequently became an annual event, and save for one break of 30 years when Kyoto was beset by civil war, the parade with its floats and musicians has been held every year.
The festival, through its long history, has lost none of its religious significance. The centre-pieces are 29 huge floats, which, from their massive wooden wheels to the tips of their decorated poles, stand fully 100 feet high.
Aside from Kimonoed musicians and shrine maidens in flowing robes, the floats carry treasured tapestries and carvings.
It takes a long time for the procession to pass anyone point, as the heavy floats have to be carefully manhandled around tight corners over makeshift tracks of poles while drummers beat a cadence to help the teams as the haul on ropes.
When the parade is over, the floats are taken back to the Yasaka Shrine to be tended and re-painted before next year's Gion Festival in Kyoto.