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Photo By: Lucio Maurizi
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Jidai Festival

A journey across 1,000 years worth of Japanese history in Kyoto.

Few festivals in Kyoto draw as much attention and as many people as the Jidai Matsuri (Festival of the Ages) does.

The festival is an annual event every Oct. 22 — the anniversary of the foundation of Kyoto. It explores, through the use of carefully crafted costumes and props, a 1,000-year period during which Kyoto was the Imperial Capital.

Photo by: Lucio Maurizi Samurai Kusunoki Masashige (楠木正成), remembered as the ideal of loyalty. Yoshino Era.

Established in 1895, along with the Heian Shrine in which the festival takes place, the Jidai Matsuri seeks to celebrate the rich history of Kyoto and Japan with a parade of costumes representing a period spanning from 1868 (Meiji Restoration) and progressing in reverse chronological order until the beginning of the Heian Period in 781.

A parade of history

One does not need to be an expert or even have working knowledge of history to enjoy this vibrant and gorgeous festival. During the parade, locals and tourists alike can see from up close the participants dressed in meticulously crafted and historically accurate garments, as well as stunning caravans and barded horses.

Photo by: Lucio Maurizi Katsurame (桂女) – Fish and candy female-only merchants from the Katsura area. Yoshino Era.

Visitors will see common people costumes that are sometimes accompanied by musicians playing instruments and motifs of the appropriate eras. Also present are representatives of all social classes of the era, such as samurai, other classes of warriors, nobles and also important historical figures, the likes of Sakamoto Ryoma and Oda Nobunaga.

Particularly awe inspiring are the representations of famous as well as unknown Japanese women. These models sport not only amazing garments, but also makeup and hairdos that, if seen up close, show off attention to detail and the hard work put into this festival.

Photo by: Lucio Maurizi Seishōnagon (清少納言), author, poet and court lady.
Heian Era.

Finally, at the end of the parade many participants accompany the mikoshi (mini portable shrines), which symbolically contain the spirits of the first and last Emperors to reside in Kyoto (Emperor Kammu and Emperor Komei).

The parade starts at Gosho (The Imperial Palace) and reaches its end at the Heian Shrine. The parade is beautiful in all of its length, but spectators may want to try to secure a spot at its beginning (Gosho), or end (Heian Shrine) for an even better experience.

Things To Know

Parade details

It’s recommended to reach the location early, as the parade starts at noon. Except for the reserved seats, the festival is free. To reserve a seat, the price is ¥2,050. The package includes a pamphlet and an audio guide explaining in real time anything one might want to know about what is happening (also available in English). For information, reservations, and other events taking place in the same location, please refer to the official Heian Shrine’s website: www.heianjingu.or.jp.

How To Get There


97 Okazaki Nishitennōchō, Sakyō-ku, Kyōto-shi, Kyōto-fu 606-8341, Japan

By train

The closest train station to Heian Shrine is Higashiyama station on the Touzai line. From this station you’ll need to walk approximately 10 minutes to reach the shrine.

By bus

From JR Kyoto Station: Take the Kyoto City Bus #5, or Raku Bus #100. You’ll need to get off at Okazaki Park Art Museum (Heian Jingu Mae). Walk Northbound for 5 minutes. The whole route should take approximately 30 minutes.

From Hankyu Kawaramachi Station: Take the Kyoto City Bus #5, or #46, or #32. Get off at Okazaki Park Art Museum (Heian Jingu Mae). Or get off at Okazaki Park Romu Theatre Kyoto (Miyako Messe Mae). Then walk Northbound for 5 minutes. The whole route should take you approximately 20 minutes.

From Gion, Kiyomizudera Temple: Take the City Bus #201, or #203, or #206. Get off at Higashiyama Nijo. Then walk 5 minutes Eastbound. Alternatively you can take the Raku Bus #100 and get off at Okazaki Park Art Museum (Heian Jingu Mae). Then walk Northbound for 5 minutes. The whole route from Kiyomizudera Temple should take you approximately 25 minutes.

By car

Take the Meishin Expressway and exit at Kyoto Higashi Inter. Go west on Sanjo Street. Turn right at the cross of Jingu Street and Sanjo. The route takes approximately 20 minutes from Kyoto Higashi Inter.

Where To Stay

Ancient Heian Capital Inn Kanade
  • 1-2 Okazaki Hoshojicho, Kyoto-shi Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-8333 Japan
  • ¥21,000 - ¥78,000
  • 5/5 (68 reviews)
  • 0.4 km
Yamashina Manor Genhouin
  • 77 Okazaki Hoshojicho, Kyoto-shi Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-8333 Japan
  • ¥115,900 - ¥649,800
  • 0.5 km
Fufu Kyoto
  • 41 Nanzenji Kusagawacho, Kyoto-shi Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-8437 Japan
  • ¥96,000 - ¥222,800
  • 4.53/5 (64 reviews)
  • 0.5 km
Rinn Niomon
  • 475-1 Kitamonzencho, Kyoto-shi Sakyo-ku, Kyoto, 606-8352 Japan
  • ¥11,900 - ¥196,000
  • 5/5 (7 reviews)
  • 0.6 km
The Hotel Higashiyama by Kyoto Tokyu Hotel
  • 175-2 Ebisucho, Kyoto-shi Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, 605-0033 Japan
  • ¥25,025 - ¥450,408
  • 4.5/5 (54 reviews)
  • 0.7 km

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