Shinkosai Ceremony, a Mikoshi Procession, during the Gion Matsuri

The Gion Matsuri, the festival of the Yasaka Shrine, is probably the most famous festival in Japan. It takes place every year over most of the month of July. There are many different events, but the grand procession of floats (Yamaboko Junko) on July 17 is the climax and is particularly spectacular. The few days preceding this procession are also busy with a few preparatory religious ceremonies and enjoyable festive evenings  (Yoiyama). The second procession of floats, on July 24, features fewer and smaller floats but is followed by an additional procession, the Hanagasa Junko or Flower Hat Procession. 

Another procession taking place on the 17th  involves carrying the shrine’s deity out of the shrine grounds and through the town in a mikoshi, a portable shrine, which is set on wooden beams and carried on the shoulders of local men. The event starts at the Yasaka Shrine and ends at the Otabisho (location where the little shrines are stored) on Shijo Street.  

Given the choice, I’d say I prefer both the smaller ceremonies and the events on the 24th from a photographic point of view.  Indeed, there are fewer people around, and this second procession provides for different opportunities and subjects.