Parishioners of Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto's Higashiyama Ward carry its ceremonial shield, pike and other sacred objects, followed by the shrine deity on a white horse, on July 17, 2020, during the ancient Japanese capital's Gion Matsuri festival. The procession made its way to the Otabisho, or a temporary destination for the deity for the duration of the festival. The Gion Matsuri has been held annually to fend off epidemic disease since the year 869, and the original purpose of the event is attracting even more attention this year than normal as the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic. The usual parade of "yamahoko" floats and "mikoshi" portable shrines through the streets of Kyoto has been canceled this year due to the virus, but both shrines and their parishioners have poured their efforts into conducting Shinto rites more rigidly than in usual years.
(Japanese original by Masateru Sawaki, Osaka City News Department)