It is said that Aoi Matsuri Festival in May, Gion Matsuri Festival in July, and Jidai Matsuri Festival in October are “the three largest festivals in Kyoto.”
The “Aoi Festival” especially the graceful dynasty procession of “Heian nobles”, it is the festival representing “the three largest festivals of Kyoto” which goes to Kamigamo-jinja Shrine through Shimogamo-jinja Shrine from Kyoto Imperial Palace. Among the nobles in the middle of the Heian era, speaking of “festival,” it refered to “Aoi Matsuri Festival”.
The “Aoi Matsuri Festival”, which is formally called “Kamo Matsuri Festival”, is the annual festival of Shimogamo-jinja Shrine and Kamigamo-jinja Shrine is held on May 15 every year.
The “Kamo Matsuri Festival” came to be called the “Aoi Matsuri Festival” after the festival is revived in 1694 of the Edo period. It is because all were decorated with the leaf of the aoi (mallow) from the blind of the main hall of the Imperial Palace, the crown and the dress of an Imperial messenger, to oxen and horses in those days.
Approximately 1,400 years ago, in the days of the Emperor Kinmei, the whole country was hit by a disaster and suffered from an extremely poor harvest. When the famous fortune-teller of those days divined, it was said that the curse of ‘Kamo Daijin’ (the great god of Kamo) was the cause. Therefore the Emperor sent an Imperial envoy, and after holding a festival, a curse subsided. This was the origin of the “Kamo Matsuri Festival”.
In the Aoi Matsuri Festival, “Roto no gi” (the on road ceremony) and “Shato no gi” (ceremony conducted on the shrine premises) are performed now.
The highlight is “Roto no gi”.
People dressed in Heian period costumes march with a gissha (cow carriage) from Kyoto Imperial Palace via Shimogamo-jinja Shrine to Kamigamo-jinja Shrine and Konoe no tsukai (Imperial Guard delegate), and as guards, officers from Kebiishicho (Office of Police and Judicial Chief) such as ‘Kebiishi jo’ (second officer of the imperial police bureau), ‘Kebiishi shi’ (third officer of the imperial police bureau), Yamashiro no tsukai (delegate of the Yamashiro Province), Maryo no tsukai (delegate of Maryo (the section taking care of imperial horses)), and Kura no tsukai (delegate of Kuraryo (the Inner Treasury Office)), and make a main march.
Yabusame (the art of shooting arrows on horseback) are also the main events of Aoi Matsuri Festival. Prior to Aoi Matsuri Festival of 15th, it is performed now in Shimogamo-jinja Shrine on May 3.
|Name:||Aoi Matsuri Festival|
|Address:||Kamigamomotoyama 339 Kyoto Kita-ku, Kyoto 603-8047 Japan|
|Access:||Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma-sen Line “Kitayama-eki Station” (15 minutes walk)|
|Tel:||(+81)75-781-0011 (Kamigamo-jinja Shrine)|
*It is basically free to watch the festival, but places that have fine views may charge for a spot.