You have the chance to contribute to this festival’s 1,150th anniversary.

Kyoto’s month-long festival, the Gion Festival, is possibly the city’s biggest event of the year. For 1,150 years, it has gone on despite horrible weather and overcrowding, but it’s only been recently that the way the festival is managed has changed.

For the third year running, the Gion Festival Yamaboko Union Association has started a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for two reasons: safety and litter. You may or may not already know this, but the Gion Festival is kind of a big deal. Not only do Japanese people take to the street en masse – visitors from other countries do as well, and their visits tended to result in a lot of chaos and a lot of trash left behind.

▼ This area was not meant for this many people.

Until recent years, the costs of clean-up were left to the people of Kyoto and the Yamaboko Union Association, so they got the idea of starting their first crowdfunding campaign in 2017. In its first year, the main goal was to raise 3 million yen (US$27,375) to improve safety and traffic control, and that goal was reached with no problem. 2018’s goal was to raise the same amount of money to deal with litter by setting up public trash dumping areas separated by type; that one succeeded as well!

▼ Do you think these people can perform on a mountain of trash? Nope.

As with most crowdfunding campaigns, this one comes with some enticing rewards for supporters. A donation of 5,000 yen will get you a washcloth with an original design.

▼ It has the kanji characters for this year written on it in the upper-left corner.

If you donate 10,000 yen, you’ll get the washcloth plus a special chimaki (like a steamed rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves) from Yasaka Shrine that is said to keep you free of sickness for one year if you hang it outside your front door.

▼ If it’ll keep us from catching the flu, we’ll take ten.

A 20,000 yen donation will reward you with a beautiful Japanese-style fan that says “Gion Festival” on it in kanji.

▼ This prize was one of the most popular in 2017.

If you have 1 million yen to dish out, you’ll be one of 50 lucky participants in an official Yasaka Shrine worship inside the shrine, followed by a meal with members of the Yamaboko Union Association.

▼ Not just anyone can get inside the shrine, you know.

2019’s goal is the same as the campaign’s previous years: to raise 3 million yen in order to improve both safety and litter control. With 69 days left, they’ve already raised over 2.3 million yen, so we’re hopeful that they’ll meet their goal this year as well and make this the best 1,150th anniversary celebration ever!

▼ Wouldn’t you feel the festival spirit so much more knowing that you contributed to its success?

We’d like to say that Shibuya should consider taking a page out of the Yamaboko Union Association’s book for Halloween, but it looks like they’ll stick to alcohol control instead.

Source: Makuake via Net Lab
Images: Makuake
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