The Taka-yama float has been a participant in the Yamahoko float procession at Gion Matsuri for most of its history since ancient times. The description of this float, with the name Taka-tsukai-yama, appears in a document from the 15th century, indicating the long history that it boasts.
Originally, the float was carried on people’s shoulders during the procession. Then, during the Edo period, large wheels were attached to it so that it could be towed. The float was once ravaged by the massive fire that burnt Kyoto down in 1788, but was reconstructed with a magnificent large roof at the end of the 18th century. However, at the beginning of the 19th century, it was wrecked once again, this time due to a great storm disaster. Since then, Taka-yama has not been able to participate in the float procession. To make things worse, almost all of the float parts were destroyed in a fire caused by a civil conflict that broke out in 1864. On this occasion, however, the three dolls that had been displayed in Taka-yama over generations—Taka-jo, Inu-kai and Taru-oi—escaped damage. Residents of the district housing Taka-yama have since participated in the festival by displaying these dolls at the procession eve called Yoiyama.
However, in 2019 they resumed their participation, just carrying “karabitsu,” a sacred chest with a hanging scroll that has the name of a deity of Yasaka Shrine written on it. In 2022 Taka Yama has been able to come back to the procession with its fully decorated float for the first time in 196 years.
* Karabitsu: a box that contains sacred items associated with Taka-yama