Mikoshi Arai, purification ceremony, Gion Matsuri

Mikoshi Arai or Purification Ceremony is another lesser-known event of the Gion Matsuri that is well worth attending. It takes place on July 10. During this ritual, the three portable shrines (mikoshi) are purified with water from the Kamo river by a Shinto priest. These three portable shrines play a rather important role in the festival’s ceremonies. Men carry the shrines and these burning logs of bamboo from Yasaka Shrine to Shijo Bridge and back.

The ceremony starts with plenty of light, but it is dark when it finishes. While it is more interesting to take photos of the bamboo torches by night, it is also more challenging.