Is The Japanese Gion Festival Sustainable?

1533 words - 7 pages

Introduction
Festivals are held in many areas in Japan. There are various kinds of them, small ones to big ones, or finish in one day to last several days. Usually Japanese festivals symbolize the cities or areas that the festivals are held or tell the traditions to the future generations. In this paper, what is sustainability and what is sustainable events will be revealed first. And then the Gion festival (祇園祭), one of the biggest festivals in Japan, will be described, and what impacts are brought to economic will be shown. Finally this paper’s main argument, ‘Is the Gion festival sustainable event?’ will be discussed from several aspects.

What Is A Sustainable Event?
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What Is The Gion Festival?
The Gion Festival is one of the biggest 3 festivals in Japan. It has more than 1000 years history and many people are still attracted by its magnificence. The origin of this festival is back to 869. At that time various plagues were prevalent in Japan. People believed that because Gozu-Tennou(牛頭天王), the god of Gion was angry, such ills spread. So they started to hold this festival to calm him down and bring peace to the world. This is the why this festival began to be held every year. The Gion Festival lasts a full month from July 1 to 31. On the first day, the activity called Kippu-iri (吉符入り) is carried out to decide which area of Yamahoko(山鉾) is going to walk around the city first. The main event in the festival is on July 17 and 24. A few dozens of people who carry each Yamahoko whose weight is 12t at the maximum and height is 25m walk through the town. During this walking they stop at the certain points and play music by instrument and show ethnic dances. It lasts from 7 am to about 8 pm. On 24th Hanagasa- junkou (花傘巡行) is carried out. It is similar to 17th ones. There are also music and dances at the certain sections by more than 1000 participants from 10 areas. And on the last day of the festivals, the participants go to Yasaka shrine (八坂神社) and get an amulet. This is the brief description of the activities in the Gion Festival (1).

What Are The Differences From Other Festivals?
As it is mentioned in the previous paragraph, the Gion Festival has been kept holding over 1000 years. It itself is special and great reason to attract people, but there should be the reasons why then it continues so long time while some of festivals are no longer held in present. From the researches, it is estimated that there are 3 reasons. First, it is held in Kyoto. Kyoto is really famous place not only for Japanese people but also for foreign people because of many traditional buildings in it. There are a lot of places for tourists to go such as Kiyomizu temple (清水寺). In addition to that, there is the Gion Festival, so it is not too much to say it has an advantage that the festival has to attract people for sightseeing. Second is the uniqueness of music, dances, and makeups (3). The music is played by drums, pipes, gongs, and the participants’ own voices. They practice for this day from months ago. Some of them play music by those instrument riding on Yamahoko, and others do walking and dancing. Those dances and music symbolize Japanese traditional customs (7), and it matches Kyoto’s old buildings. The participants are from children to adults, and they all put white makeup on their face, which is one of the uniqueness of this festival. Third, the participants have a competition spirit. This festivals is not just held by a committee, but the people are willing to make it better, and the committee does management the event, but leaves it to them. The participants from other sections are rivals and they all believe that...

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