This was quite possibly the quietest festival I have ever been to. The Gion Matsuri Festival is held in Kyoto in July in the Gion District. This festival originated as part of a purification ritual (goryo-e) to appease the gods thought to cause fire, floods and earthquakes.
A whole lot of crazy decorated floats and hundred and hundreds of people dressed in traditional costume walk the streets to ward off the bad spirits of disease. Atop some of the larger floats sit specially trained musicians who play slow, slightly creepy flute music as they are pulled along the ground by the hordes of men below.
I have to admit that I was overwhelmed by the amount of tourists and considering that I have just spent over 5 months in China you think I would have gotten use to it. So many asians!