The “Omukae Chochin” or “Welcoming Lanterns” is one of the first events of the Gion festival. It takes place on July 10th and is meant to greet the purified mikoshi (portable shrine) after the cleansing ritual.  

Men carrying lanterns accompany women and young children dressed in elaborate costumes from Yasaka Shrine along Shijō Street to Kawaramachi Street. Children are dressed up as white herons, girls wearing white makeup with delicately painted red lips, young performers in colorful yukatas and giggly little boys wearing red wavy wigs.  The Omukae Chochin parade is one one of my favorite and one of the most colorful and eccentric events of the Gion Matsuri.