last weekend was the biggest event of the huge kyoto summer festival, gion matsuri, the big parade called yamaboko junko.
there are 2 kinds of floats, the tall ones called hoko with the long pole, and the shorter ones called yama. this photo shows one of each.
this float had an amazing moving praying mantis on top!
and this one was exceptionally boat-like.
i watched towards the end of the parade, at one of the larger intersections where they turn the corner with the floats.
the men riding inside are playing flutes and other instruments to make the traditional gion matsuri music.
the floats are huge, heavy, and pulled by ropes. and the reason the that these big intersections where they turn the corner are popular places to watch the parade is because of the way they turn them.
the wheels don't turn. so when they get to the intersection, they put wet bamboo strips under the wheels, which are held immobile. and then all the people pulling the roles go the the side, and pull the wheels SIDEWAYS to make the float turn. it takes several times.
and the whole time there is music and coordinated shouts. these 4 men on the front gesture with their fans turning the actual turn. it was really fascinating to watch. and really hot.
i made a flickr set with more photos here.