It’s 33 degrees Celsius with 83% humidity and I’m sitting on the road with the sun burning my back. I’m dripping with sweat from places I didn’t even know could sweat! Watching the twice a year Yamaboko Junko parade, procession of floats parade, go through a 3km route. I have a perfect spot. I’m sitting directly under the police tape, if I reach my hand out I might be able to hi-five someone in the procession. I’m almost reluctant to leave my spot when the heat gets too much. And it does. I stay for about an hour, and only see 7 of the 23 floats.
But despite the sweltering heat, it was quite an experience. I even managed to make a friend with a fellow traveler as we bonded over how sweaty we were. The festival was a fantastic night, not only the floats, but the immense crowd of people that came out to celebrate. The police were in top form, expertly directing traffic, watching out for overly enthusiastic viewers and sometimes even having a bit of a laugh themselves.
The festival’s history goes back hundreds of years to 869, when it was used to appease the gods during a epidemic. It’s religious undertones continue today, with a young boy chosen as the ‘divine child’ who cannot set foot on the ground from the 13th – 17th of July. Besides the incredible display of hoko and yama, during the two parades, the festival also runs Yoiyama – night festivals with food and activities.
If you are interested in the different floats, the tunnel that runs between Karasuma station and Kawaramachi has a small display on miniature floats!