The stunning colours and costumes of the Jidai Matsuri Festival in Kyoto. A photo essay.

The stunning colours and costumes of the Jidai Matsuri Festival in Kyoto. A photo essay.

The Jidai Matsuri Festival in Kyoto

We were very fortunate to be in the enchanting city of Kyoto, Japan when the The Jidai Matsuri Festival occured. We stayed in a ryokan, a Japanese local inn, and this was to our advantage in understanding more of the significance of this festival. We enjoy festivals in Japan, as they are exceptional examples of the history and culture of this intriguing country. The first fire festival that we saw was in Nozawa Onsen, Japan, called the Dosojin Fire Festival.

When is the The Jidai Matsuri Festival in Kyoto held?

This is all about the celebration of Japan’s former imperial capital, Kyoto. The Jidai Matsuri Festival in Kyoto  is also known as the festival of the ages and occurs every year on October 22nd. The festival features some 2500 people wearing costumes ranging from the 8th to the 19th century parade.  The parade goes from the Imperial Palace to the Heian-jingu shrine. This is a stunning Japanese festival full of colour and pageantry. The historical costumes worn are simply incredible.

About The Jidai Matsuri Festival in Kyoto

The  participants of the parade are dressed in accurate costumes from almost every period of Japanese history, as well as famous historical figures. There are about 2000 participants and it takes two hours to watch the entire procession pass by.

The Jidai Matsuri Festival in Kyoto is held by Heian Shrine. The festival and the shrine were established in 1895 to celebrate Kyoto’s history and culture. A few years before in 1868, the capital was moved to Tokyo after having been in Kyoto for over a thousand years. Despite its short history, the Jidai Matsuri is one of Kyoto’s three most famous festivals, along with the Gion Matsuri in July and the Aoi Matsuri in May.

The historical costumes cover the approximately 1100 years during which Kyoto was the national capital. The procession is separated into historical eras and then further separated into themes, of which there are about twenty. The parade begins with characters from the Meiji Restoration in 1868, and then continues in reverse chronological order until the beginning of the Heian Period in 781.

The festival’s honorary commissioners, riding in horse drawn carriages in the style of the mid 1800s, lead the parade. The commissioners include the governor of Kyoto Prefecture, the mayor of Kyoto City and the city council chairman. There is a marching band with drums and flutes and soldiers who would have fought with the imperial forces, as well as some of the era’s most notable figures, such as Sakamoto Ryoma.

What we thought about The Jidai Matsuri Festival in Kyoto

This was an amazing display. It was rich in history, culture, colour and sound. It was an easy festival to enjoy as despite many people being there, it was spread out enough that you didn’t feel crowded. We sat under a tree on a little for much of the procession, and were able to look all around us at everything happening. We then followed the procession down the street and again this was effortless.

Jidai Matsuri Festival in Kyoto

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7 Comments

  1. Going to Japan for three weeks tomorrow – thanks for some inspiration…
    Michael recently posted…GreenlandMy Profile

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  2. Hi! Lovely photos! :) I’m actually going to Japan later this year in time for the Jidai Matsuri and I’m wondering if you have any tips in photographing this festival. I plan to go around Kyoto Imperial Park in the morning and catch the start of the festival in there. Did you stay in one place to see the entire procession pass you by or did you follow it? If the former, how long did it take you?

    Sorry for bombarding you with questions! Have a great day :)
    Kai recently posted…34.0775° N, 118.4750° WMy Profile

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    • We started up down in the pits so to speak and then went up on the little hill which you can’t miss and took photo’s from there. Then we followed it and have thousands more incredible photos. It was a great day and the people were so excited. Us too

      Reply

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  1. Kyoto - enchanting at night - Contented Traveller | Contented Traveller - […] of Japan for more than 1,000 years, from 794 through until 1869.  Kyoto is a highly historic and cultural …

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