Technology hasn't brought us the time machine we've all been waiting for, thus, we still aren't able to travel back through time to witness the ancient customs of the Japanese. There are other ways: by attending the Aoi Matsuri Festival in Kyoto!
- Visit the Kyoto Imperial Park
- Experience Aoi Matsuri Festival (one of Kyoto's 3 main festivals)
- Understand what makes Aoi Matsuri Festival special for the Japanese
In the 7th century Japan it was believed that deities who came from the Kamo Shrines brought natural disasters to earth. However, once the Emperor provided offerings to these deities, the disasters receded and, eventually, a festival was born - Aoi Matsuri Festival.
Now, for a quick Japanese learning lesson: “Aoi” means hollyhock and “Matsuri” means festival. The name “Aoi” is given due to the members who wear the hollyhock leaves during the festival.
Fast forward to today and you'll discover that Aoi Matsuri Festival is still celebrated, and annually, on May 15th, in Kyoto, Japan. It's also one of Kyoto's three main festivals, the others being Gion Matsuri and Jidai Matsuri Festivals. Over 500 individuals dress up in Heian period clothing and walk from the Kyoto Imperial Palace to the Shimogami and Kamigamo Shrines (an hour-long journey).
Originally, one of the princesses from the Imperial family of Japan was sent to the shrine. Today, a young female in Kyoto is chosen, annually, to play the role of the Imperial princess.
As for how popular the event is, keep in mind that the Shoku-Nihongi (a historical Japanese record) noted that Aoi Matsuri Festival was banned during the 2nd year of the reign of the 42nd emperor (697-707) due to the massive amount of people who attended!
Come experience the traditional outfits, horses, oxen, ornately decorated carts, a once banned festival, and a taste of old Japan as you've never seen before.
You can book special paid seats and enjoy the parade at the Kyoto Imperial Palace only (seats at the Shimogamo Shrine are not offered). This will be an excellent opportunity to see the highlights of the festival without getting lost in the crowd. If you wish, you can also book a seat with an English Guidance!
Note: Please note that the special seat tickets are expected to sell out quickly. Book now to secure your seats!
Kyoto Imperial Palace