Minamikannon yama (one of decorative floats parading in Gion festival in Kyoto) (南観音山)

"Minamikannon yama" is one of "yamahoko" (decorative floats) parading in Gion festival in Kyoto on July 17 every year. It is the rearmost "hikiyama" (a float dragged by people) parading at the end of the procession of thirty two yamahoko. It has been preserved and operated mainly by the foundation Minamikannon yama Hozonkai.


Principal images of Minamikannon-yama are Yoryu Kannon (the Goddess of Mercy) and Zenzai Doji (a child of wealth). According to legend, the image of Yoryu Kannon was carved by a priest Eshin Sozu Genshin (942 - 1017), but since its body except head portion was destroyed by conflagration at Tenmei in 1788, the present image was made as the restoration of the original image. The image of Zenzai Doji, joining his hands in prayer beside Yoryu Kannon, was worked out in the Edo Period. These images are taken from a narrative about Zenzai Doji in the Chapter "Nyuhokkai-bon" of Kegon-kyo (Avatamska Sutra), who made a tour to visit fifty three zen-chishiki (a person who offers spiritual friendship and guidance to visitors).

"Abare Kannon" (literally, rampaging kannon), which is an unique event of Minami Kannon yama, is also called "Yoiyama" and held at midnight of July 16 before the day of procession of decorated floats. In this event, people bind up a principal image Yoryu Kannon onto a sacred palanquin, and carry it swinging and parade around the town of Hozonkai three times. By this violent swinging actions, it is said they are trying to cool down Yoryu Kannon's feeling of love toward another kannon bodhisattva living in Kitakannon yama. There are other legends concerning this event, but their veracity is uncertain.

It was Matazo KAYAMA, a Japanese-style painter who designed "Ryuotokaizu" (literally, a picture of dragon crossing over the sea), a pattern on miokuri (a backside drop curtain of a float) which was renewed in 1988, and "Hitensogaku" (literally, flying music), a pattern on shita-mizuhiki (a lower side-drapery of a float) which was renewed in 1995. In 2008, four pieces of upper side-draperies with patterns of "Shishinzu" (literally, pictures of four Gods) on red thick woolen cloths were newly restored.

[Original Japanese]