Aoi Matsuri is the most elegant festival held in Japan. Most Matsuri are held by ordinary people or shrines, but Aoi Matsuri is started by the Emperor at that time, as an event praying for a bountiful harvest, participants were all really aristocracy. That is why in Aoi Matsuri, people all dressed in Heian-period style, especially aristocracy’s costume. No exaggeration ，it is the best chance to feel ancient Japan’s style, how they dress, the way of walking, even about their make-up! Every year, on May 15th, it is mainly held at Shimogamo Shrine and Kamigamo Shrine, which are thought to be the protector of the capital during Heian-period.
Dates: May 15th usually
※There might be changes according to the weather.
How to Purchase Ticket
Basically, it is free for watching all the parade and events.
There are also special audience seats for watching the festival
JPY 2,050 per person. (All reserved seat, with introduction book)
On the left side is at Shimogamo Jinja approx. 11:40am.
On the right side is before Kyoto Gosho(Kyoto Imperial Palace), approx. 10:30am.
The procession route
Kyoto Gosho(Kyoto Imperial Palace) 10:30am →Marutamachi-dori→Kawaramachi-dori
→Shimogamo –jinja Shrine Ar.11:40 Lv.14:20 → Kamigamo-jinja Shrine Ar.15:30
(Time stated above will be sometimes a little behind schedule.)
Venue: Shimogamo-jinja Shrine and Kamigamo-jinja Shrine
Kyoto Imperial Palace: Kyoto Gyoen, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto City
Shimogamo-jinja Shrine: Shimogamo Izumigawa-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City
Kamigamo-jinja Shrine: Kamigamo Motoyama, Kita-ku, Kyoto City
How to enjoy
Aoi Matsuri itself starts from May 1st, but the climax is on May 15th. As Aoi Matsuri is a quiet serious event to send the message from the Emperor to the god, all of the parades go on in silence with great respect. Thus, the Imperial Messenger is a main role in this event. He is the one who leads the festival procession on horseback and to read the imperial rescript of the shrines and present the emperor’s offerings.
While the most prominent role in this Matsuri is the Saio-Dai, which refers a chosen unmarried female royalty. She will be responsible to maintain ritual purity and to represent the Emperor at the festival.
As picture showed above, the girl’s is wearing twelve layers of the traditional style robes.
Cannot wait to have a look?
Check out YouTube
During Aoi Matsuri, you will feel that time backs to the 10th century, it is like a perfect time show, bring you to that mysterious ancient Japan. Maybe you have heard of the famous Japanese ancient handsome guy―Hikaru Genji (The main character in The Tale of Genji), he has once been the Imperial messenger of the Emperor! Yes, Hikaru Genji had participated this festival thousands years before! Undoubtedly, if you are interest in ancient Japan, especially Heian-period, Aoi Matsuri is the event you cannot miss!
But since the whole parade is in silence, here we suggest you do not go watch the parade at the beginning because you might feel a little bit boring.
The best time to go is when they reach Shimogamo-jinjia Shrine.
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