Niwatori Hoko of Gion Matsuri Festival

Niwatori Hoko of Gion Matsuri Festival

The information of Niwatori Hoko (Niwatori Boko) is presented here. Niwatori Hoko is a large-sized Yamahoko float (Hoko float), and its symbol is the circle inside the triangle (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 board Niwatori Hoko during Former Festival Yamahoko-Junko (Float Procession, Yamaboko Parade). Niwatori Hoko has the tapestry (Important Cultural Property), which was made in Belgium in the 16th century and imported in the early Edo period (1603-1868).

【Niwatori Hoko Location Map & Directions】

Address: Niwatorihoko-cho, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan
Access (How to get there): Subway Shijo Station (about 3 minutes on foot), Hankyu Karasuma Station (about 6 minutes on foot)
Location: Niwatori Hoko is located on Muromachi-dori, about 120 meters south of the intersection of Muromachi-dori (north-south) and Shijo-dori (east-west).

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

The origin of Niwatori Hoko (鶏鉾) 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 “Niwatori Hoku 庭とりほく (between Ayakoji Muromachi and Shijo)”, and Niwatori Hoko is said to have already been founded before the Onin War. Later, in 1793, during the late Edo period (1603-1868), the new statue of Sumiyoshi Myojin on tennoza was made, and in 1979, the even newer statue of Sumiyoshi Myojin was made. Chigo doll was also made in 1863.

★Niwatori Hoko is derived from the story of the “Renko”, in which the country was well governed, the lawsuit drum, called “Renko”, was no longer used, and moss grew and a chicken lived there during the Gyo period in China. It is said that Gyo-tei placed the lawsuit drum “Renko” outside the royal court to make people write complaints and beat the lawsuit drum “Renko”, if they were dissatisfied with the government. Gyo-tei, along with Shun-tei, who succeeded him after he abdicated the throne, was regarded as the ideal son of heaven, and the politics of the era are called “GyoShun-no-chi (the reign of -Gyo and Shun”. It is said that Niwatori Hoko is derived from a legend in Japan’s oldest history book, “Kojiki”, in which the Naganakidori (bird) appeared from Ama-no-Iwato.
★Niwatorihoko-cho, where Kiboko-hoko is located, has preserved “Niwatorihoko-cho Bunsho (Niwatorihoko-cho Documents)” since the Middle Ages, including the “Machi Hatto”, which describes how the townspeople ran the town by themselves.
*reference・・・Niwatori Hoko website

【Features (subject to change)】

★Niwatori Hoko is about 23.88 meters high, 6.62 meters long, 3.70 meters wide, 9.42 tons in total weight, and has a minimum turning radius of 6.30 meters. (2008 Data)
★Chigo doll was made in 1863, in the late Edo period (1603-1868), and wears the tenkan (crown) with a rooster in the center.
★It is said that the hoko-gashira, which attached to the tip of the shingi (pillar) is the circle inside the triangle, and the circle inside the triangle represents a chicken egg inside a drum. However, the truth is not clear.
★The tennoza of the shingi (pillar) is boat-shaped and enshrines Sumiyoshi Myojin, the guardian deity of navigation, looking up at the moon in the boat.
★The chickens (rooster and hen) on the hafu are the designs of Ganku.
★The ten-mizuhiki is a design by Shimokawabe Gyokukin, and the shita-mizuhiki is a design by Shijo painters such as Matsumura Goshun and Matsumura Keibun. The mae-kake (front) was the Persian carpet and the do-kake (side) was the Indian carpet with floral designs, but in recent years they have been replaced by the designs of the ema (votive tablet) of Kiyomizu-dera Temple and the shuinsen (boat) associated with Sumiyoshi Myojin. The miokuri (back) is the tapestry made in Belgium in the 16th century and imported in the early Edo period (1603-1868), depicting Heratl, Prince of Troy, bidding farewell to his wife and children. The tapestry has been designated as an important cultural object.
★The miokuri (back) is a tapestry woven in the Flanders region of Belgium in the 16th century. The tapestry depicts the story of the Trojan War in the epic poem “Iliad” by the ancient Greek poet Homer, in which the prince of Troy, Hector, bids farewell to his wife and children. The tapestry was introduced to Japan in the early Edo period (1603-1868) and was purchased by Niwatori Hoko in 1815. The tapestry is about 3.7 meters long and 2 meters wide. Incidentally, it is said to be a pair of tapestries with Hoou Yama, which appears at Hikiyama Matsuri in Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture.
★Gion-bayashi (Gion Matsuri music) of Niwatori Hoko includes “Jibayashi (Ikishi)”, “Tsune”, “Tsuru”, “Ume”, “Komatsu”, “Kagura”, “Karako”, “Miyako”, “Tora”, “Moderijibayashi (Chanchikichin)”, “Matsu”, “Asahi”, “Tsunemoku”, “Banzai”, “Akakuma”, “Chidori”, “Kame”, “Koyoko”, “Take”, “Tomoe”, “Ichinisan”, “Niwatori”, “Nagare”, “Waka”, “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 Former Festival Yamahoko-hikizome on July 12th, newly assembled Niwatori 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 Niwatori 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 Niwatori 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 Niwatori Hoko depart from Shijo-Karasuma and parade along Shijo-dori, Kawaramachi-dori, and Oike-dori. Niwatori Hoko is the 9th, 13th or 17th in the procession of Former Festival Yamahoko-Junko, and Tsuji-mawashi (turning of streets) is performed at the intersection. The order of the 9th, 13th and 17th floats of Niwatori Hoko, Kikusui Hoko and Tsuki Hoko is decided by Kujitori-shiki on July 2nd.

【Niwatori 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