A festival that started as a revitalization project for Kyoto
The Festival of Ages is one of Kyoto’s three great festivals which include the Aoi Festival and the Gion Festival, and began in 1895 to revitalize Kyoto whose spirit had been lost following the turmoil of the late Tokugawa Era and the transfer of the capital to Tokyo, and to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of the founding of the Heian-kyo (the former name of Kyoto). It’s held every year on October 22nd, the day that the capital was moved to Heian-kyo in 794 and therefore the birthday of Kyoto. Citizens’ groups from all over Kyoto run the event with 20 sections representing the 8 eras of the Meiji Restoration, Edo, Azuchi-Momoyama, Muromachi, Yoshino, Kamakura, Fujiwara and Enryaku which include cows and horses and 2000 participants. With the sounds of taiko drums and flutes by the Yamaguni-tai squad in the lead, the procession takes approximately 3 hours to pass. Furthermore, at the end of the parade, the divine spirits of Emperor Kammu and Emperor Komei, enshrined deities at Heian-jingu Shrine, ride the Horen mikoshi through the streets of Kyoto to view the lives of the citizens, with the purpose of the festival being for the citizens to pray as one toward the destination of Heian.
A procession whose traditional techniques of the old capital fascinate
In the procession, historical figures such as Ryoma Sakamoto, Nobunaga Oda, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, Lady Murasaki and Sei Shonagon parade, while groups of common folk clad in clothing representing each era vividly revive the lifestyles of those times, truly resembling a moving picture scroll of the ages. With 12,000 examples of clothing and furnishings along with all of the materials, dyes, designs and detailed background research behind the hairstyles and makeup, the traditional techniques of the old capital are re-enacted faithfully. The procession departs from Kyoto Imperial Gardens at 12 noon and arrives at Heian-jingu Shrine at around 2:30 p.m. You can sightsee for free at the departure point of Kyoto Imperial Gardens and can take photographs without including the modern architecture, so the area is recommended for taking photos that resemble a Heian picture scroll.