Kanko Hoko of Gion Matsuri Festival

Kanko Hoko of Gion Matsuri Festival

The information of Kanko Hoko (Kanko Boko) is presented here. Kanko Hoko is a large-sized Yamahoko float (Hoko float), and its symbol is the crescent moon and mountain (hoko-gashira) attached to the tip of the shingi (pillar), which extends vertically to the sky. Hayashi-kata (music group) playing Gion-bayashi (Gion Matsuri music) and Chigo doll “Katamaru” board Kanko Hoko during Former Festival Yamahoko-Junko (Float Procession, Yamaboko Parade). Kanko Hoko has the tapestry (Important Cultural Property) depicting scenes from the first century of the Old Testament.

【Kanko Hoko Location Map & Directions】

Address: Kankohoko-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Access (How to get there): Subway Shijo Station (about 4 minutes on foot), Hankyu Karasuma Station (about 3 minutes on foot)
Location: Kanko Hoko is located on Shijo-dori, about 90 meters west of the intersection of Karasuma-dori (north-south) and Shijo-dori (east-west).

【Kanko Hoko (Kanko Boko) History and Brief Overview】

The origin of Kanko Hoko (函谷鉾) is not clear. In the “Gionshaki”, which describes the names of Yamahoko floats and places in the middle of the Muromachi period (1336-1573) before the Onin War (1467-1477), it is written as “Kanko Hoku かんこくほく (between Shijo Karasuma and Muromachi)”, and Kanko Hoko is said to have already been founded before the Onin War. Later, Kanko Hoko was destroyed by Tenmei-no-taika (Great Fire of Tenmei) in 1788 during the late Edo period (1603-1868), but was rebuilt 50 years later in 1839. During the revival of Kanko Hoko, chigo doll was used instead of Iki-Chigo (living child). In the late Edo period (1603-1867), the south side of Kankohoko-cho (town) was the residence of Matsudaira Awa-no-kami (Hachisuka family of the Tokushima domain) and the north side was a residential area of the Konoike family, so there were few townspeople in the town, and due to the expense of rebuilding Kanko Hoko, it was difficult to raise the cost of boarding Iki-Chigo (living child) on Kanko Hoko. So Kankohoko-cho (town) asked Shichijo Sakyo, a great Buddhist sculptor who lived in Kankohoko-cho (town), to create Chigo doll, but since there was no precedent for it, when Shichijo Sakyo visited the Imperial Palace, Shichijo Sakyo consulted with Ichijo Saneyoshi, and Saneyoshi’s son, Katamaru was allowed to be used as a model.

★Kanko Hoko is derived from the historical record “Keimei Kutoku” in which Mosho-kun of the Sei dynasty was able to safely escape the “Kankoku” barrier through the voice of a chicken during the Chinese Warring States Period (403 B.C.-221 B.C.). Mosho-kun was one of the four rulers of the Chinese Warring States Period, and was appointed a vizier by King Shojo-ou of the Shin dynasty, but was chased away by false accusations and arrived at the “Kankoku” barrier. It was a rule that the “Kankoku” gate was closed at night and opened early in the morning with the sound of chickens clucking. So when the servant, who was a master of imitation, mimicked the clucking of a chicken, the chicken began to crow, and the “Kankoku” gate was opened, allowing Mosho-kun to escape safely. Mosho-kun was born as the son of Seikakukun Denei, a nobleman of the Sei dynasty, and was the grandson of King I-ou of the Sei dynasty. He succeeded his father after his father’s death, and it is said that he treated his guests well and had thousands of guests. He was invited by King Shojo-ou of the Shin dynasty as a vizier, but when he was about to be assassinated, he ran away and served King Bin-ou of the Sei dynasty as a vizier. Later, he went to the Gi dynasty to serve as a vizier, but returned to the Setsu in his later years to establish himself as a lord. His fame spread throughout the country, and he is known as one of the four rulers of the Chinese Warring States period, along with Shinryo-kun of the Gi dynasty, Heigen-kun of the Cho dynasty, and Shunshin-kun of the So dynasty.
*reference・・・Kanko Hoko website

【Features (subject to change)】

★Kanko Hoko is about 24.17 meters high, 7.00 meters long, 3.95 meters wide, 11.39 tons in total weight, and has a minimum turning radius of 6.35 meters. (2008 Data)
★Chigo doll “Katamaru” is modeled after Ichijo Saneyoshi, the son of Ichijo Tadaka and the older brother of Shoken kotaigo. Ichijo Tadaka was supposed to board Kanko Hoko as Chigo, but it seems that this did not happen.
★The hoko-gashira, which attached to the tip of the shingi (pillar) is the crescent moon and mountain, and the crescent moon and mountain represent the mountain range at midnight.
★The tennoza of the shingi (pillar) enshrines the doll of Mosho-kun, and below it, male and female chickens.
★The “Kinjichakusai Keia-zu (Chicken and Crow) in the attic was painted by Imao Keinen.
★The mae-kake (front) used to be a 16th century tapestry, an important cultural treasure, depicting scenes from the founding of the Old Testament, but was replaced with a replica in 2006. The mizuhiki is the hand-woven “Gunkei-zu (flocking chickens)” by Yamaga Seika, and the do-kake (side) is a 17th century Ri-shi Chosen carpet, an Indian carpet with a floral design, and Chinese carpet with a lion design. The miokuri (back) was the “Kongokai Raizabun” in gold clay on a dark blue background, which is said to have been made by Kobo-daishi Kukai, whose copy was copied in the Tempo era (1830-1843) during the late Edo period (1830-1843), but has now been replaced with the Egyptian Sky Map and Mont Saint-Michel by Minagawa Taizo.
★Gion-bayashi (Gion Matsuri music) of Kanko Hoko includes “Jibayashi (Hikidashi)”, “Dewaka”, “Dekanko”, “Detsuru”, “Dehatsumi”, “Komatsu”, “Kagura”, “Karako”, “Hakusan”, “Matsu”, “Jibayashi (Watari)”, “Jibayashi (Tsukushi)”, “Matsu-Nagashi”, “Tsuneme-Manzai”, “Tomoe, Ichinisan (Tsukushi)”, “Ichinisan (Watari)”, “Wakaba, Koyoko”, “Tora, Koyoko”, “Kanko-Midori”, “Sakaki-Hatsune”, “Tsuru-Asahi”, “Sue-Kagura”, “Ryu, Tachiyoko”, “Take-Nagashi”, “Kame-Shiki, Yoko”, “Okina, Kasumi”, “Ume, Ichinisan”, “Chidori-Nagashi”, “Waka”, and “Osamebayashi (Hiyori Kagura)”, and others.
★Chimaki, which can ward off bad luck and disease, hand towels, sensu (fans), etc., are available for purchase. The purchase of chimaki and other items may allow you to board Kanko Hoko. (Confirmation required)

【Events (confirmation required)】

★In Kankohoko-cho Ryugen-ji Bosan in early July, Kankohoko-cho officials mourn the 15-year-old boy who died after being run over by Kanko Hoko on the way back from Former Festival Yamahoko-Junko (Float Procession, Yamaboko Parade) in 1872, and pray for the safety of Former Festival Yamahoko-Junko (Float Procession, Yamaboko Parade) held on July 17th.
★In Former Festival Yamahoko-hikizome on July 12th, newly assembled Kanko Hoko is pulled a short distance, just as in the actual Former Festival Yamahoko-Junko on July 17th.
★In Former Festival Yoiyama from July 14th to July 16th, Komagata-chochin lanterns of Kanko Hoko are lit and Gion-bayashi (Gion Matsuri music) is played in the evening.
★In Hiyori-Kagura on July 16th, Hayashi-kata (music group) of Kanko Hoko go to Yasaka Shrine Otabisho while playing Gion-bayashi (Gion Matsuri music), and dedicate Gion-bayashi to pray for good weather on the next day, and for the safety of Former Festival Yamahoko-Junko (Float Procession, Yamaboko Parade).
★In Former Festival Yamahoko-Junko (Float Procession, Yamaboko Parade) on July 17th, Yamahoko floats, including Kanko Hoko depart from Shijo-Karasuma and parade along Shijo-dori, Kawaramachi-dori, and Oike-dori. Kanko Hoko is kuji-torazu (without drawing lots), and the 5th in the procession of Former Festival Yamahoko-Junko, and tsuji-mawashi (turning of streets) is performed at the intersections.

【Kanko Hoko of Gion Matsuri remarks】
*Events may be rescheduled or cancelled. Also, the content of the event may have changed.


  1. 錦市場(Nishiki Market)
  2. 竹林の道(Bamboo Forest Path)
  3. 嵐山