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Fireworks exploding over a river.
Local Festivals
  1. Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo, Hokkaidō)
  2. Aomori Nebuta (Aomori City, Aomori)
  3. Sumida River Firework Festival (Tokyo)
  4. Takayama Festival (Takayama City, Gifu)
  5. Naked (Hadaka) Festival (Inazawa City, Aichi)
  6. Wakakusayama Mountain Burning (Nara City, Nara)
  7. Gion Festival (Kyoto City, Kyoto)
  8. Awa Dance Festival (Tokushima City, Tokushima)
  9. Yosakoi Festival (Kōchi City, Kōchi)
  10. Nagasaki Kunchi (Nagasaki City, Nagasaki)
  11. Eisā Festival (Okinawa City, Okinawa)
  12. Niihama Taiko Festival
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People in matching traditional attire pull a float down the street,  in front of an office building
People parading through the streets of Kyoto, pulling yamaboko.
Photo Courtesy of Stereo Photo Gallery Kawagoe.
Gion Festival (Kyoto City, Kyoto)
Long the center of aristocratic culture, Kyoto still observes many ancient customs. The Gion Festival is famous throughout Japan as representative of Kyoto’s long and splendid history as Japan’s capital. Centered on the Yasaka Shrine in the center of Kyoto, this festival dates back to 869 AD when a terrible epidemic swept the region. Many people took it as a curse from Gozu-tenno, the bull-headed guardian deity of Yasaka Shrine, so a procession of portable shrines through city was organized to appease the god’s anger. This was the origin of the modern Gion Festival. This festival enlivens the city with events through the entire month of July. The showiest event is the yamaboko jungyō, the procession of great floats, or yamaboko. The magnificently decorated floats parade elegantly through the streets, and people gather to admire the spectacle. Each neighborhood has its own float, and generations of local families have participated in guiding their neighborhood float in the procession.
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