On Sunday, 15th of July, the MSA Kansai team organized an event to enjoy the Gion Matsuri in Kyoto. Gion Matsuri (or Gion Festival) is one of the most popular festivals in the Kansai area. It takes place over the entire month of July every year. Amongst many different events, the grand procession of floats on July 17 attracts a big crowd. There is also a second procession of floats on July 24th, although it has fewer and smaller floats. However, the evenings preceding the procession are also very enjoyable. The date we choose was corresponding to the so-called ‘Yoiyoiyama’, meaning two days prior to the grand procession on July 17th.
In total, we had 27 participants including three Japanese people from the Kansai area. We started the event at 16:30 in front of the Yasaka shrine, the host shrine of the Gion Matsuri. After everybody gathered at the place, we entered the shrine to witness some of the ancient traditions related to the festival.
At 18:00, we started walking towards the Shijo-Karasuma area to see the main attraction of the festival, the floats (Yama-boko). Walking along and being a part of the crowd we enjoyed seeing beautiful people with Japanese dresses and protection charm selling sites with singing children, hearing traditional Japanese music and indulging in good street food.
An interesting side of this event was the opportunity to explore a Japanese festival with locals. Two Japanese people decided to join us after seeing us at the meeting site and the other attendee was already a friend, who is enthusiastic to join international communities and make new friends. Accepting Japanese people in our events may provide a good networking opportunity for international students in the future. As for the international students, the event became a good opportunity to connect with each other and to share cultural and academic information.
We thank everyone for joining us and hope to see you guys again at one of our future events!
Written by Duygu Sahin. Pictures taken by Shady Salama.