Best Viewing Spots
Major intersections along route or near two omikoshi (portable shrines) at Imperial Palace
The Jidai Matsuri festival or (Festival of Ages) is held annually on October 22nd (subject to weather). It is made up of 2,000 people outfitted in colourful garments, elaborate amour and other pieces befitting the nobility and samurai classes. Around 70 animals (horses and oxen); a procession that stretches two kilometers long starts at the Imperial Palace and winds its way through the streets of Karasuma and Oike until it finishes at Heian Shrine. The regal garments, armour and weapons are some of the interesting highlights of the different eras.
The Jidai Matsuri is one of Kyoto’s three largest festivals along with the Aoi and Gion festivals. Even though the Festival of the Ages sounds steeped in hundreds of years of tradition, it actually started in 1895, the year the Heian Shrine (replica of original Imperial Palace) was built.
After the political capital moved to Tokyo (after the Meiji restoration in 1868), Kyoto city officials tried to maintain Kyoto’s relevance. The Heian Shrine and festival were meant to commemorate the 1100th year since the Heian capital (Heiankyo) had been established on October 22, 794 in Kyoto. It emphasized Kyoto’s historical and cultural importance.
The local organization responsible for building Heian Shrine thought it would be interesting to add a procession featuring the various eras since Heiankyo was established. The procession always begins with the Meiji Restoration (1868) and stretches back more than 1,200 years to the Heian Period (794-1185).
Meiji Period (1868-1912)
Edo Period (1600-1868)
Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1573-1600)
Muromachi Period (approximately 1336-1573)
Kamakura Period (1185-1333)
Heian Period (794-1185)
Start: 12:00 (Imperial Palace) End: 14:30 (Heian Shrine)
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