This is the festival for Sudo Shrine (崇道神社), a magnificent Shinto shrine in the northern part of Kyoto. The men are carrying a mikoshi (神輿), a kind of decorated palanquin in which the god rides out once a year to visit and bless the people of the neighborhood. Here they are crossing a bridge over the Takano River. As they crossed to the near side, the men would lift the mikoshi over their heads, chant, and rock it violently while the bells attached would jingle out a merry sound. Then they walked to the other side of the bridge and did the same, repeating this on both sides of the river several times to spread the god's blessings. Then, with drums and cymbals in the lead, the procession continued through the neighborhood. Families gathered outside their homes to bow and offer a short prayer as the god paraded by.
Kyoto is rich with beauty. Among its many treasures I find myself particularly drawn to its sacred spaces, both Shinto and Buddhist. Today's photo is part of a short series (Sacred Spaces) highlighting some of the city's more remarkable spots where the gods and humanity come into contact.