Date: 22 October
In 1895, Kyoto city held its first Jidai Matsuri Festival: a colorful, exotic costume parade dedicated to the Old Capital’s 1100 year history. The first festival also marked the opening of Heian Shrine, a 2/3 scale model of Kyoto’s original imperial palace. The shrine was specially built to enshrine the spirit of Emperor Kammu (reigning 781-806), who founded Kyoto in 794, and the city’s last reigning emperor and Emperor Komei (reigning 1847-1866).
Today, after nearly 120 years, the Jidai Matsuri Festival continues to be a major focus of pride for the city of Kyoto. For most visitors, the festival’s biggest attraction lies in the fantastic range of authentic historical costumes, covering twelve centuries of Kyoto’s history and social development, worn by the participants.
The festival begins at seven in the morning on the 22nd with the transferal, on sacred palanquins, a covered seat carried on poles on the shoulders of two or four people, of the imperial spirits from Heian Shrine to the Old Imperial Palace. At around 12:00, the southern central axis of the Old Imperial Palace becomes a massive stage of the ages. The procession departs from here and slowly makes its way through the streets of Kyoto to Heian Shrine.
In the morning, the shrine procession travels from the Heian Shrine to the Kyoto Imperial Palace, and at noon, processions representing each era parade through the city, and return to the Heian Shrine. Over the course of one hour, the evolution of cultural items and clothing over 1000 years is recreated.
Especially in the Edo era procession, old-style demeanor and interesting items of clothing belonging to the Yarimochi, Kasamochi, Kyosekimochi, and Warajitori groups may be seen.
See the map below for the procession route, details and approximate procession passing times.