Yoiyoiyama is the celebration that begins two nights before the Gion Matsuri’s parade of boko and yama floats that traditionally takes place on July 16th of every year. Boko are large floats on wheels but have no axels, which makes turning these monstrous floats a hazardous and arduous activity. The boko floats have very tall spiraled roofs with multi-storied poles on top of which a symbol is attached. On the two nights before of the parade, the streets are blocked off and the floats are open to the public and magnificent lanterns are tethered to the floats and are lit up at night. Beautiful folding screens at private homes and shops are also put on public display.
The Gion Matsuri has been held every year since 869, when a plague swept through the city killing a large chunk of the population. It was believed that the plague was a curse and the festival began as a means of appealing to the gods of Yasaka Shrine to help prevent the return of the plague and as well as to keep evil at bay.