Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Carpe Diem #841 Gion Matsuri

Dear Haijin, visitors and travelers,

As you could have read ... I hadn't time to create this new episode on time, so I love to apologize again for the delay. I will try to publish the following episodes on time. At the moment I am in the nightshift and maybe I have time to create a few episodes and schedule them, but I can not guarantee that ... well I will do the best I can.

Today's episode is about Gion Matsuri another wonderful Japanese Festival. The Gion Festival (Gion Matsuri) takes place annually in Kyoto and is one of the most famous festivals in Japan. It goes for the entire month of July and is crowned by a parade, the Yamaboko Junkō on July 17 and July 24. It takes its name from Kyoto's Gion district.

Kyoto's downtown area is reserved for pedestrian traffic on the three nights leading up to the massive parade. These nights are known as yoiyama on July 16 and July 23, yoiyoiyama on July 15 and July 22, and yoiyoiyoiyama on July 14 and July 21. The streets are lined with night stalls selling food such as yakitori (barbecued chicken skewers), taiyaki, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, traditional Japanese sweets, and many other culinary delights. Many girls dressed in yukata (summer kimono) walk around the area, carrying with them traditional purses and paper fans.
Credits: Gion Matsuri
During the yoiyama evenings leading up to the parade, some private houses in the old kimono merchant district open their entryways to the public, exhibiting valuable family heirlooms, in a custom known as the Byōbu Matsuri, or Folding Screen Festival. This is a precious opportunity to visit and observe traditional Japanese residences of Kyoto.
This festival originated as part of a purification ritual (goryo-e) to appease the gods thought to cause fire, floods and earthquakes. In 869, the people were suffering from plague and pestilence which was attributed to the rampaging deity Gozu Tennō. Emperor Seiwa ordered that the people pray to the god of the Yasaka Shrine, Susanoo-no-mikoto. Sixty-six stylized and decorated halberds, one for each province in old Japan, were prepared and erected at Shinsen-en, a garden, along with the portable shrines (mikoshi) from Yasaka Shrine.

This practice was repeated wherever an outbreak occurred. In 970, it was decreed an annual event and has since seldom been broken. Over time the increasingly powerful and influential merchant class made the festival more elaborate and, by the Edo period (1603–1868), used the parade to brandish their wealth.
In 1533, the Ashikaga shogunate halted all religious events, but the people protested, stating that they could do without the rituals, but not the procession. This marks the progression into the festival's current form. Smaller floats that were lost or damaged over the centuries have been restored, and the weavers of the Nishijin area offer new tapestries to replace destroyed ones. When not in use, the floats and regalia are kept in special storehouses throughout the central merchant district of Kyoto in the care of the local people.

Credits: Gion Matsuri 1920
This festival also serves as an important setting in Yasunari Kawabata's novel, The Old Capital which he describes, along with the Festival of Ages and the Aoi Festival, as "the 'three great festivals' of the old capital."

Gion Matsuri
celebrating redemption
of Gozu Tenno's wrath

© Chèvrefeuille
Not a very strong one, but it gives the essence of this wonderful festival.

This episode is NOW OPEN for your submissions and will remain open until October 23rd at noon (CET). I will (try to) publish our new episode, a new episode of CD's Haiku Writing Techniques, later on. For now ... have fun!



  1. Just passing through.. with a little haiku.

  2. How often do you provide these prompts?

    1. I do this every day. I have every month a special theme on which i built the prompts. Next to the daily prompts i have special features. For example this last quarter of 2015 i provide every wednesday an essay/article about haiku writing techniques together with well known haiku poetess Jane Reichhold. This month i have cd specials with haiku written by Michael Dylan Welch and Cor van den Heuvel. Feel free to participate Carol.

    2. Thank you. I think I'll give it a try! :)

    3. I am getting a message saying that I can't add a link due to a trial running out. Do I have to sign up somewhere?

  3. Dear Carol, every daily prompt is open for submissions for only three days. Gion Matsuri has already closed, but if you would like to add a haiku to Gion Matsuri than you can write your url of your haiku here in the comment field and i will add it to the linking widget.