Nishiki Shinkokai Organization
The busy hands carrying the portable shrine during the Gion Matsuri
  Gion Matsuri is an annual religious festival held in July in Kyoto, which is always attended by huge crowds of people. It is said that the festival started in the Heian Period, when a portable shrine was used to carry one of the gods from Yasaka Shrine to the Shinsenen Imperial Garden for a ceremony for protection against a bad plague.
There are several ceremonies associated with Gion Matsuri that are conducted in July, and one of the most famous is the Yamaboko float procession on the 17th of July, a religious ceremony held to purify the road used to carry the god. In fact, the less well-known Shinkosai Matsuri and the Kankosai Matsuri, which are conducted after the float procession, are the main events of the festival. During the Shinkosai Matsuri ceremony, three portable shrines are carried from Yasaka Shrine to the Otabisho at the corner of Shijo and Teramachi streets, and then carried back to Yasaka Shrine in the Kankosai Matsuri ceremony. During the Nishikigoza part of the ceremonies, the members of the Nishiki Shikokai Organization, made up of young men from the Nishiki area, carry the portable shrines.
At one time, the members of the Sanwakakai Organization, a citizen's group located near Nijo Castle, carried the portable shrines. However, after the war, the Sanwakakai Organization was dissolved and the people of the Nishiki Market, a bustling area at the time, took over the tradition.
The Nishikigoza is the largest of the three portable shrines used in the ceremonies, and it weighs about two tons. About 600 people carry the shrine, shouting "Hoito, Hoito" in cadence. The whole affair is quite impressive when seen from vantage points along the procession route at Gosho (the Imperial Palace), Teramachi St. and in front of the Yasaka Shrine.
Shinkosai Matsuri
Shinkosai Matsuri
Kankosai Matsuri   A view of the Kankosai Matsuri in the Showa Period   The children's portable shrine in 1947  
Kankosai Matsuri   A view of the Kankosai Matsuri
in the Showa Period
  The children's portable shrine
in 1947
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