Jidai Matsuri

November 24, 2019

Jidai Matsuri


Because Kyoto has a long and complex history, there are many traditional festivals in Kyoto. Kyoto is famous for the number of the festivals. It is said that there are more than 300 festivals in a year in Kyoto. In addition, those historical festivals started hundreds of years ago. Especially, most of the people who live in Kyoto know the three largest festivals in Kyoto and people love those festivals. “The three largest festivals in Kyoto” refers to the three festivals held in Kyoto City, the center of Kyoto Prefecture. It has the Aoi Festival (葵祭) in spring, the Gion Festival (祇園祭) in summer, and the Jidai Festival (時代祭) in autumn. In those festival seasons, Kyoto becomes very lively and full of excitement.



Jidai Matsuri (時代祭) is celebrated on the 22nd of October at the Heian Jingu shrine (平安神宮) every year. This festival has been held annually since 1895, when Kyoto City celebrated the 1,100th anniversary of “Heian-Kyo”(平安京), the beginning of one of Japan’s historical eras. Actually, Kyoto was the capital of Japan from 794 until 1868 AD. Compared with other two largest festivals, the Jidai Matsuri has a relatively short history. However, many people who live in Kyoto can participate in this festival, so most of the citizens love it. Not only Kyoto citizens, but also a lot of foreign visitor and Japanese tourists come to Kyoto to watch this festival.

Jidai Matsuri is a large-scale event involving more than 2,000 participants dressed in spectacular historical costumes. A main feature of this festival is the procession which departs from the Kyoto Imperial Palace at noon, goes along Karasuma-dori (烏丸通り), passes City Hall, and then goes towards Heian Jingu Shrine, which is the ultimate destination of the procession. The participants of the procession are wearing costumes of Kyoto’s main historical periods, starting with the most recent and finishing with the oldest period styles. Each historical era is represented by students or citizens of Kyoto acting the part of the most famous people of the time. All the participants are clothed in carefully constructed and costly costumes specific to the period they represent.

The Jidai Festival (時代祭) reminds one of a time machine that carries the viewer more than 1,200 years back in time in about three hours. It is a great event in which people in Kyoto can take pride in their history and traditions. Unfortunately, this year’s Jidai Matsuri(時代祭) was cancelled due to a big typhoon. Therefore, many people are looking forward to the festival being held next year.


Fire Festival of KURAMA

The Kurama Fire Festival is held on 22 October, same day as Jidai Matsuri in Yuki –jinja shrine, it near Kurama station. At 6 o’clock in the evening, watch fires called kagaribi are ignited all at once in front of the houses, and people holding up small and large taimatsu (pine torches) parade all night long announcing in loud voices the arrival of the festival. the main features of this festival are the 3-meter tall watch fires placed here and there along the streets, and the pine torches, which total more than 250. At 8 o’clock in the evening, people gather at the gateway of Kurama-dera Temple and pay a visit of worship to the Yuki-jinja Shrine. Later, two mikoshi (portable shrines), carried on the shoulders of youths are paraded through the town streets, bringing the festival to its climax. Every year, the festival ends a little past midnight. Moreover, the buildings of Yuki-jinja Shrine, where this festival is staged, are structures representative of the Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1573-1598), and a sugi (Japanese cedar) tree about 800 years old stands in the precincts of the shrine. As it is located in an area blessed with beautiful natural landscapes, it is an ideal place for viewing the autumnal tints in early November or cherry blossoms in the sakura season.

Because the Jidai matsuri starts in the morning, it is possible to attend both festivals in one day, if you have enough stamina.


The way to participate this festival

Jidai matsuri is a festival of Heian-Jingu Shrine in Kyoto. Public festivals were held in the early Heian period. Japanese mythical dance and music were performed for the gods. Some Edo-period shops were reproduced at the festival. One of the famous Japanese women of old time, called “Ono no Komachii” during the Jidai matsuri Festival wore “Uneme costume” during the early Heian period.

”Uneme costume”

We can experience one of these Japanese traditional mythical dances and hear the music performed for the gods for a part time job. But this job can only be had by Kyoto citizens or college students attending school in Kyoto. Of course, people can work as participants in the historical pagent, wearing costumes, another job is to give brochures to tourists. Jidai Matsuri (時代祭)recruits participation by local residents and corporations as volunteers. An internet article explains that the average salary is about \6700 per a day and lunch and drinks are also supplied. This part time job is amazing because we can join in and experience of one of Japanese traditional Jidai matsuri festivals. If you are not living in Kyoto or attending school in Kyoto, we can’t join in these wonderful festivals. However, anyone can come to watch the Jidai Matsuri.




Jidai matsuri festival is the one of the famous Kyoto festival in around the world. Jidai matsuri festival is the traditional Japanese culture. It is the 20 lines then over 2000 people come on this festival every year. How wonderful? It can experience only this place in Kyoto. If you have a chance you should go and join in this marvelous Kyoto jidai matsuri festival.