Samurai at the Jidai Matsuri, Kyoto's Festival of Ages

The Jidai Matsuri is one of Kyoto’s three main festivals. It takes place every year on October 22, the anniversary of the foundation of Kyoto. It consists of a large parade that travels from Kyoto Gosho (Kyoto Imperial Palace) to Heian Jingu Shrine. The Jidai Matsuri, Japanese for “Festival of Ages”, started in 1895 to celebrate Kyoto’s history and culture, a few years after the capital was moved to Tokyo (1868) after having been in Kyoto for over a thousand years.  

About 2000 participants of the parade are dressed in accurate costumes from almost every period of Japanese history. This is a great opportunity for taking photos of the gorgeous costumes, accessories, and fittings which are reproduced with the quintessence of Kyoto’s traditional handicraft techniques. It’s like a life visit to an open air art gallery or a museum with amazing costumes ranging from the 8th century (Heian Period) to the 19th century (Meiji Period). While the parade travels for about two hours from the Palace ground to the Heian Jingu Shrine, I always preferred taking photos at the starting area, around the Palace as the background is then without all the electric wires and other modern details of the busy streets of the city.

The Jidai Matsuri in Kyoto is a truly unique and interesting festival that celebrates the wonderful culture and history of the ancient city of Kyoto. If you have a chance to be in Kyoto, you’ll be sure to bring home some memorable photographs.