Considered to be one of the top three festivals in all of Kyoto despite its status as a relatively new tradition, Heian Shrine's Jidai Matsuri (Festival of the Ages) is held on October 22nd from noon each year.
Heian Shrine was built in 1895 to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto and to promote a city-wide revival amidst a period of concern for Kyoto’s future after the capital was moved to Tokyo in 1868, taking along with it the Emperor, the imperial family, and a majority of the government. The Festival of the Ages started as a celebration of Kyoto’s history and traditional arts as well as a ritual to honor two emperors connected with unifying the country and consolidating imperial power.
The festival is primarily composed of a two-kilometer, five-hour long procession of countless volunteers dressed in historical garb, representing Japanese cultural history from the Meiji era all the way back to the Enryaku era in the 780s. Painstakingly recreated and researched, going so far as to even make and dye the fabric with the same techniques as were used a thousand years ago, the procession is very much a living history museum marching by. Not only do famous historical figures and princesses make appearance, but warriors, priests, politicians, merchants, and commoners are all represented as well.
With that many characters, the Jidai Matsuri gives a very comprehensive look into the clothing and appearance of Japanese past.
The parade begins from 12 pm and makes its way from the old Imperial Palace to the site of the Heian Shrine. For those who want to take it easy, paid seating is offered at three different locations along the route (at the Imperial Palace, midway through the route on Oike Street, and at Heian Shrine), and information is available in English in pamphlets on the day.
Things to See/Do