Known as one of the best-preserved cities in Japan, Kyoto is said to have kept their traditions and customs most thoughtfully. Kyoto has managed to become one of the most visited cities across the country. This is why it is also considered the cultural capital of Japan. Diverse cultures, traditions, customs, and habitats can be seen in the region prevailing for years now.Kyoto marks the existence of some renowned UNESCO World Heritage Sites that people come to witness from around the world.
Now that you know how imperative is the existence of Kyoto in Japan, you should not miss out on the most exotic events held here. These events and festivals are traditional and are celebrated without fail, every year. No matter what time of the year you are traveling, chances are that you will get to witness some of these festivities for sure!
Kyoto has three biggest traditional festivals which are referred to as ‘Matsuri’ in Japanese. One can easily witness these from the crowd and can even be a part of the parade. Either of it has its own thrill and fun!
Aoi Matsuri Festival of Kyoto with 1500 years of history
The oldest festival in Kyoto, Aoi stands for Hollyhock in the Japanese language. Hollyhock is a tall Eurasian plant of the mallow family with large showy flowers. They symbolize fertility and fruitfulness. Aoi Matsuri in Japan is taken very seriously and that is why it is celebrated every year. The Aoi Festival is when Hollyhock leaves are used for decoration in the entire place. They are pious and are believed to save the region from natural disasters.
The people in Japan are highly religious and take their prayers very adamantly. So, this festival is bound to be celebrated on the 15th of May every year, no matter what. This festival is also called the Kamo festival because of two World Heritage Kamo shrines- Shimogamo Shrine and Kamigamo Shrine.
It is said that during the reign of Emperor Kinmei, a lot of natural disasters subsided. He then made offerings to God to stop them and the same happened. And thus, Aoi Matsuri was established as an imperial event. During the festival, people dress in aristocratic dresses and walk the parade.
Gion Matsuri- With 1000 years of history
Gion Matsuri is another traditional festival that is celebrated in the summer season. Every festival in Kyoto has something to do with rituals. Gion Matsuri is also one of them. It is celebrated as a part of a purification ritual to pacify the gods of fire, floods, and earthquakes. These celebrations and prayers are believed to help them survive such disasters and even avoid them a lot of times in history.
Gion Matsuri is celebrated throughout July where you can see parade of the wooden floats all along. These floats can of any shape and can be as long as 25 meters! They look highly attractive and are one of the best highlights of this event. If you are willing to participate in the parade, you will also enjoy traditional music played by artists in the backdrop.
Many traditional instruments playing along with street food are lined up for your entertainment. Dressing in fancy clothing is also one of the things you can do and get all drenched in the Gion Matsuri festival.
Jidai Matsuri- With 1200 years of history
Held annually at the Heian Jingu Shrine on October 22 in Kyoto, this one is also a procession or parade. It has been prevalent since the 19th century, which is why it is called ‘Festival of the Ages.’ There are a lot of interesting things that you will spot at this event. Traditional costumes and types of equipment being the main highlights look highly attractive.
These costumes are made using traditional methods & handicraft techniques after careful precision. More than 2000 people dressed likewise are seen thus proudly representing Kyoto’s era.
Jidai Matsuri also flaunts the music of a military band in the procession which is simply unmissable. Everything here is centered around the enactment of history. So, if you are someone who loves to dig deep in history, these festivals will take you back to a different era!
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