The Gion Festival (祇園祭, Gion Matsuri) takes place annually in Kyoto and is one of the most famous festivals in Japan. Gion Matsuri is one of the largest festivals in Japan for purification and pacification of disease causing entities. It takes place in the month of July on the 17th and 24th. There are many ceremonies held during the festival, but it is best known for its parade, the Yamaboko Junkō (山鉾巡行). The festival takes place at the Yasaka Shrine and the festival gets its name from the Gion district of the city.Kyoto's downtown area is reserved for pedestrian traffic on the three nights leading up to the massive parade. These nights are known as yoiyama (宵山) on July 16 and July 23, yoiyoiyama (宵々山) on July 15 and July 22, and yoiyoiyoiyama (宵々々山) on July 14 and July 21. The streets are lined with night stalls selling food such as yakitori (barbecued chicken on skewers), taiyaki, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, traditional Japanese sweets, and many other culinary delights. Women dressed in yukata (summer kimono) walk around the area, carrying with them traditional purses and paper fans.
During the yoiyama evenings leading up to the parade, some private houses in the old kimono merchant district open their entryways to the public, exhibiting family heirlooms in a custom known as the Byōbu Matsuri, or Folding Screen Festival. This provides visitors with an opportunity to visit and observe traditional Japanese residences.