Jidai Matsuri (Festival of the Ages) | Kurama no Hi Matsuri (Kurama fire festival) | Japan post day

Jidai Matsuri (Festival of the Ages)
Wednesday October 22, 2008
7:00am onwards (until approximately 5:00pm)

Jidai Matsuri is a festival celebrating Kyoto’s history which showcases an amazing, colourful costume parade. It is held annually in Kyoto, Japan’s Old Capital, on October 22. The first Jidai Matsuri was held in 1867 to celebrate 1,100 years of history in Kyoto. It also celebrated the opening of Heian Jingu (Heian Shrine)—a 2/3 scale model of the Old Capital’s original imperial palace. Heian Jingu is a Shinto shrine that was built specifically to enshrine two imperial spirits—the spirit of Emperor Kammu (reigned 781-806), who founded Kyoto in 794, and Emperor Komei (reigned 1847-1866), Kyoto's last reigning emperor. Now, over 140 years later, Jidai Matsuri is still one of Kyoto’s largest and most important festivals. For many, the highlight of the festival is the wonderfully colourful costume parade consisting of approximately 2,000 participants wearing authentic historical costumes spanning eleven centuries.

1. Jidai matsuri, Kyoto, 2. Jidai matsuri, Kyoto, 3. Jidai matsuri, Kyoto, 4. Jidai matsuri, Kyoto, 5. Jidai matsuri, Kyoto

Beginning at 7:00am, the festival opens with the imperial spirits being transferred in mikoshi (portable shrines) from Heian Jingu to the Old Imperial Palace. At approximately midday the costume parade begins at the Old Imperial Palace and from here slowly winds its way on a 2km route (5 hour journey) back through the streets of Kyoto to Heian Jingu.

1. Jidai matsuri, Kyoto, Japan, 2. Jidai matsuri, Kyoto, 3. Jidai matsuri, Kyoto, 4. Jidai matsuri, Kyoto, 5. Jidai matsuri, Kyoto

Kurama no Hi Matsuri (Kurama fire festival)
Wednesday October 22, 2008
6:00pm onwards (until approximately midnight)

Kurama no Hi Matsuri (Kurama fire festival) is held in Kurama, Kyoto–shi, a village North of Kyoto city just into the mountains. This festival is celebrated annually on October 22 and is considered to be one of the most unique and eccentric of all of Japan’s autumn festivals—and I have to agree that it was amazing, like nothing I have ever seen before! Participants in the festival carry burning pine torches of ever–increasing sizes (the final torches weighing more than 80kg) through the narrow winding streets of Kurama up to Yuki–jinja (the local shrine), which is situated in the village below Kurama–dera (Kurama temple). 3m tall bonfires (watch fires) are also lit (at 6:00pm) and attended to throughout the night. The festival closes with two mikoshi (portable shrines) being paraded through the streets.

1. Kurama Fire Festival, 2. Untitled, 3. Kurama Fire Festival

All forms of Kyoto’s public transport are exceptionally busy on this day (with two incredible festivals being held). If you do travel up to Kurama by train I would recommend getting there early and leaving before the festivities end, as trains do stop running around midnight and they will be incredibly crowded. To get to Kurama take the train from Demachiyanagi station on the Eizan Line—Kurama is the final stop.

(*Please Note: These images by txipiflick, whatsound and rikib80 have been used under the Creative Commons license)

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