The Jidai Matsuri (Festival of the Ages) is one of Kyoto’s three great festivals, along with the Gion and Aoi Festivals. Held every October 22nd, the festival dates back to the Meiji Period, and celebrates Kyoto’s inception as Japan’s capital in 794.
The festival features an impressive procession of around 2,000 costumed participants, who wear traditional garb from throughout Kyoto’s history as Japan’s capital, beginning with the most modern at the Meiji Era, and working back to the elaborate dress of the Heian Period.
The Jidai Matsuri begins in early morning with the mikoshi (portable shrines) brought out of the Kyoto Imperial Palace so that people may pay their respects. The mikoshi represents both Emperor Kanmu and Emperor Kōmei. The five-hour, two-kilometer costume procession begins in the afternoon, with approximately 2,000 performers dressed as samurai, military figures, and common people, from the earliest eras to the Meiji era. These are followed by Japanese women who are dressed in elaborate costumes. Finally, the mikoshi are carried from the palace and the procession ends at the Heian Shrine.