KYOTO -- A grand procession of huge floats, a highlight of the famous Gion Festival, was held here on July 17 amid blistering heat that reached 35.8 degrees Celsius.
A total of 23 "yamahoko" floats, elaborately decorated with tapestries and wooden and metal ornaments and weighing up to about 12 tons, were paraded through the streets of the ancient capital.
At 9 a.m., the parade departed from Shijokarasuma intersection in Shimogyo Ward. Yutaro Kobayashi, 8, a third-grader at the local Doshisha Elementary School, played the symbolic role of an infant child for the festival, using a sword to cut a rope that represents a sacred boundary to mark the start of the grand procession as spectators cheered loudly.
According to Kyoto Prefectural Police, about 165,000 people were enjoying the festival on the city's streets, as of 12:30 p.m. on the day. According to the Kyoto City Fire Department, several spectators were sent to hospitals after feeling ill.
If you missed the spectacular event, another "yamahoko" float parade will be held on July 24.
(Japanese original by Hajime Nakatsugawa, Kyoto Bureau)