Imamiya-jinja's (今宮神社) Yasurai Matsuri (やすらい祭) is 1 of Kyoto's 3 ‘eccentric festivals’ (京都三奇祭). Thought to… pic.twitter.com/vykMMfhl22
— Kyoto Daily Photo (@KyotoDailyPhoto) May 31, 2015
…Thought to have begun in 1154, the festival lures the god of pestilence (疫神—Ekijin) back to his shrine with huge red parasols topped with five spring branches. It was believed the god became distracted by the sakura/cherry blossoms, and without his vigilance pestilence could run wild in the city.
Green Shinto website
Yasurai Festival (Imamiya Jinja)
…directs the pestilence god known as gechinsai…and festival parades… converge at the shrine to perform rituals for the kami/gods. The main feature is the dance of the demons.