Photo/IllutrationDancers perform the “bofuri odori” (club-wielding dance), which is performed in the hopes of driving away sickness, around the Ayagasa Hoko float in Kyoto’s Shimogyo Ward on July 17. (Yoshiko Sato)

KYOTO--Across the vast Pacific, the Ayagasa Hoko float, featured during the "saki matsuri" (preceding festival) of the Gion Festival, will make the long journey to Portland, Ore., to be put on display in a Japanese garden from this month.

It will mark the first time that the main body of a “yamahoko” float from the centuries-old festival will be displayed to the public outside Japan.

“It is a small float, but we want people to learn about the high level of the techniques used to make it and the festival’s traditions,” said Susumu Terada, 69, head of a preservation association for the Ayagasa Hoko.

“Hayashikata” festival musicians devoted to the Naginata Hoko float will also visit the Portland Japanese Garden to play the festival’s signature musical accompaniments called “konchikichin.”

With a total space of about 22,000 square meters, the garden is hailed as the finest Japanese garden located offshore after it opened in 1967. A renovation of the garden by renowned architect Kengo Kuma, who designed the new National Stadium, the main venue for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, had been completed last year.

The operator of the garden, which has organized events to introduce Japanese culture over the years, regards 2018 as the year of Kyoto. It will put the main body of Ayagasa Hoko, “shinmen” divine mask and other related items on display from Sept. 14 to Nov. 14. Footage of the "bofuri odori" dance, which accompanies the float during the parade, will also be shown.

About 20 hayashikata musicians for the Naginata Hoko will perform music from the festival on Sept. 15 and 16.

With the association planning to make the Ayagasa Hoko into a larger “hikihoko” float, Terada added, “We hope to receive donations from people in the United States where the tradition of donating has taken root.”

The musical accompaniments for the Naginata Hoko were previously performed in Boston four years ago.

“We’d be happy if (the performance) became a catalyst for people to become interested in traditional Japanese culture,” said Toshiro Inoue, 62, head of the preservation association for the Naginata Hoko.