Historical Processions Color Ancient Capital's StreetsFestival of Ages22 October 2016 - Sightseeing/Events
On October 22, the "Jidai Matsuri," or Festival of Ages, one of Kyoto's three major festivals, took place throughout Kyoto City as autumn advances. Retroactively recreating the transition of attire over the approximately 1,100 years that Kyoto was Japan's capital, covering the Heian Period to the Meiji Restoration, the procession with about 2,000 participants attired in historical costumes unfolded like a picturesque scroll of history.
In the early morning, a Shinto ritual was conducted at Heian Jingu Shrine in Sakyo Ward, Kyoto. At 9:00 a.m., the "Shinko-retsu" procession, focusing on the two portable shrines in which the enshrined deities of both Emperor Kammu, who transferred the ancient capital to Heian-kyo, and Emperor Komei of the closing days of the Tokugawa Shogunate, headed for Kyoto Gyoen National Garden in Kamigyo Ward, from Heian Jingu Shrine. Participants gathered in the Kyoto Gyoen National Garden from all areas of the city.
The festival's highlight, the "Jidai Gyoretsu" procession, departed from the Kenrei-mon Gate of the Kyoto Imperial Palace at noon. At the front of the procession were loyalists of the Meiji Restoration accompanied by the airy sound of flutes and drums. That was followed by the procession of zealous patriots from the end of the Edo Period, and then the "Edo Joshi Joraku-retsu," or procession of the Tokugawa Shogunate's messengers going up to ancient Kyoto, in which they dressed in soldiers' camp helmets and traditional "Hakama" trousers with "Haori" jackets, as well as servants called "Yakko" showing off unique gestures.
The procession spanned a length of approximately two kilometers, and changes over the current of time in both attire and arms for court nobles and feudal lords, along with the fascinating outfits for women, could be seen. Many visitors gazed intently at the magnificent and majestic processions from vantage points along Karasuma-dori, Oike-dori and other streets.
In celebration of the 1,100th anniversary of the foundation of Kyoto as the national capital and the foundation of Heian Jingu Shrine, the Festival of Ages was inaugurated in 1895. Originally, there were only six processions, but now participants in 20 processions walk along wearing attire based from historical documentation. The procession has been cancelled ten times due to war and other events. This year marks the 112th festival.(translated by Galileo, Inc.)