KYOTO -- "Yamahoko" floats were paraded through the central part of this western Japan city during the historical Gion Festival on July 17, marking the highlight of the 1,150-year-old event in the ancient capital.
A total of 23 floats were slowly pulled to the sounds of distinctive music along Shijo-dori, Kawaramachi-dori, Oike-dori and other main roads as visitors enjoyed watching the spectacular sight.
At 9 a.m., the lead float departed from Shijo-Karasuma intersection in Shimogyo Ward heading east. Local lad Nozomi Nakanishi, 10, cut the rope that separates gods' domain from the real world to warm roadside applause from spectators.
At the Shijo-Kawaramachi intersection, each float weighing more than 10 metric tons dynamically turned at right angles in the climax of the parade.
About 120,000 people had turned out to watch the annual extravaganza as of 12:30 p.m. on the day, according to police.
Another "yamahoko" float parade will be held on July 24.
(Japanese original by Kenji Yagura, Kyoto Bureau)