With over 120 years of continuance, the Jidai Matsuri (or the Era Festival) is a celebration focused on the history and culture of the city of Kyoto as “Heian-kyo”, as it was called while being the capital of Japan up until 1868. On that year, the capital was moved to Tokyo and therefore the Emperor of Japan, the imperial family and many other government officials had to relocate as well. The parade also commemorates such an event by having about 2000 participants including man, women and children dressed in accurate costumes, walk from the Kyoto Imperial Palace to Heian Jingu Shrine.
A History of Jidai Matsuri
Representing the history of a period over 1000 years, the entire procession takes about 2 hours to see in its entirety and includes renown historical characters such as Sakamoto Ryoma and Oda Nobunaga. Above this, the detail taken into the making of the costumes make it a pleasure to see in itself. Everything from traditional samurai armors to the delicate “junihitoe” kimono worn by the court ladies from the Heian Era, this festival perplexes with its display divided by Eras and certainly make it an unmissable opportunity to see Kyoto at its greatest.
An important aspect to consider is that one of the most important components of the event, in terms of significance and remembrance, are the last members of the parade carrying two “mikoshi” (portable shrine). In these portable shrines the spirits of Emperor Kammu (first emperor of Kyoto) and Emperor Komei (last emperor of Kyoto) are carried through the parade route through the city that has once saw them in power.
For guests staying at our traditional “machiya” house of Sakura House Kyoto Imadegawa, this is a particularly good opportunity since the house is at a short distance from the Kyoto Imperial Palace, where the parade begins. Even though starting at midday, going early in the morning guarantees getting a good spot to enjoy the event and take some excellent pictures.
It is highly recommended to anyone to presence this event and hopefully carry back home the beautiful spirit of Kyoto and its cultural and historical richness.