Kyoto’s Gion Matsuri in July is one of the largest and most well known festivals in Japan with a month of events which culminates in the Yamaboko grand parade. Port town, Onomichi also holds a Gion Festival which starts from its own Yasaka Shrine. It can’t compete with the extravagance of the former capital, but the energetic culmination of festival on the Onomichi waterfront will certainly get the heart racing and the cameras clicking.
One of Onomichi’s three major festivals. Three groups of men dressed in happi coats carrying mikoshi portable shrines make their way, chanting and banging as they go, from Kubo Yasaka Shrine through the narrow city streets to the gathering point at the watabashi ferry landing on Onomichi’s waterfront.
Then the three groups race as fast as they can around a large banner in front of large crowds. Finally all three groups repeat the circling of the banner, but at the same time, while purifying water is thrown upon them.
Onomichi Gion Festival timetable
- Portable shrines leave Kubo Yasaka Shrine (久保八坂神社)
- Festival stalls at Kubo Yasaka Shrine
- First 300 people who pay respects at Yasaka shrine dressed in yukata get a free Japanese sweet
- Portable shrines arrive and “battle” at Onomichi watashibashi on the waterfront