are two stories high and carry people on each level and even on the roof. The night before the procession crowds gather to see the hoko in downtown Kyoto in a festival called Yoiyama. Sumida River Fireworks Display 27 July Sumida River, Asakusa, Tokyo One of the largest fireworks displays in all Japan. Mid-July to mid-August, ueno, Tokyo, this mid-summer festival consists of all sorts of events - many of them requiring an admission fee - that take place over the space of about a month. The famous parade begins at the Yasaka Shrine in Kyotos Gion district. Shinto rituals and classical bugaku dance are performed on board. Hakata Gion Yamagasa 15 July Kushida Shrine, Fukuoka Sacred Gion festival of Kushida Shrine in Hakata (the name of the old quarter of Fukuoka) dating back to the 13th century. The festival is a tribute to arts patron Tenman Tenjin. Other attractions include fireworks and togyu, a kind of non-fatal bull-fighting in which two bulls fight to push each other out of the ring.
Access: Shimodate, Ibaraki Prefecture (Mito Line) Yokohama Summer Night Festival 27-28 July Yamashita Park, Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture Professional and amateur musicians, dancers and other entertainers perform on stages in Yamashita Park in Yokohama and on floating stages in the bay. The bearers wear extra-strong happi coats and douse themselves in water to protect themselves. Japans most popular summer festivals. At Otaru Wharf, some 4,000 paper lanterns are set adrift on the sea and many boats and ships parade around the bay amongst them. In the event of rain, the festival will be cancelled. Where: Tokyo, on the banks of the Sumida River, near the Asakusa district. Each evening, the streets are awakened to the sound of drums, shamisen a traditional guitar-like instrument with three strings and other instruments. Although the festival begins at Yasaka Shrine on the 1st and continues until 31 July with many larger and smaller events taking place, the highlight of the festival is when all 25 yama floats and all 7 hoko parade through the city, watched by many. Shiogama Minato Matsuri The day before, and on, Umi no Hi (Marine Day) Shiogama City, Miyagi Prefecture A festival started in 1948 as recovery from wwii and featuring big intricate, fantastical, vivid boats depicting mythical creatures: the Ho-oh-maru bird boat and the Ryu-ho-maru dragon boat. The summer months are especially populated by festivals. Sapporo Summer Festival 21 July - 20 August Odori Park, Sapporo Large areas of Odori Park in central Sapporo and surrounding streets are turned into a beer garden with many entertainments and festivities. It is famous for its floats, which may be 25 meters in height and weigh 12 tons.
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