John Harvey Photo

Festivals in Kyoto
Go to Slide Show

The Festival of Ages and the Fire Festival


 
October 22nd is a big day for Kyoto - two festivals happen on the same day.  The first festival is Jidai Matsuri - the Festival of Ages.

The Festival of Ages (Jidai Matsuri)

The festival of Ages was introduced in 1895 to mark the cities 1100th anniversary.  Kyoto was the capital of Japan from 794 AD to 1868 AD and this parade plays back those thousand years with precession of people in costumes.  The parade goes in reverse order - the people you see first represent the Meiji Restoration (most recent) and then goes backward in time.  There is a web site for the parade.

Orange Pulling Rope Human Archery TargetLittle BirdGeishas On Stage

I was most impressed by the soldiers.  They are carrying what look like traditional weapons, and have authentic looking armor.  Even the foot ware looks period - no one is wearing sneakers.

Mounted HorsemanSoldier WalkingFoot Soldiers

And after every period is the bureaucrats.

Bureaucrat

The whole parade (2000 people) takes more than an hour to walk by.  We were quite close to the end of the parade route so some of the people looked pretty tired.

Fire Festival (Kurama-no-Himatsuri)

Packed Door
The fire festival isn't actually held in Kyoto - it's in a small town named Kurama.  To get there you take a Eizan line train from a Kyoto station - the trip takes about half an hour.  By the time we got to the station (around 6pm) the train were already packed and lines stretched out of the station.
Packed Train

Fire By Cell PhoneStocking Fires
The festival was started 940 AD when a local shrine (Yuki-jinja) was moved from Kyoto up to Kurama.  The locals (they generally are wearing costumes or sashes) build and stock large fires at the side of the road.  This town is pretty much a one road town, running next to a river with houses on each side of the valley.  When we arrived the road was separated with a rope and the spaces at the rope were filling up fast. 


Torch On Ground
Shortly after we arrived, we started to see torches walk by.  These torches were carried by the younger members of town.  The torches are made of woods and are carried by 3 to many people.

Pulling Torch
 
Setting Up TorchSparks Coming Off Torch
The main event is carrying 5 huge torches from the city square to a fence.  These torches are heavy (50 kilos) and carried by three people.  As people try to put them up (they aren't very stable) other people throw water onto the torches and people to keep things sane.  As we tried to walk to the train station, one last surge of the crowd pinned us against a shrine.  Thankfully we got an amazing view of the action (we could feel the heat of the torches).


Parade Walking Past Torches

Both of these festivals were great views into Japanese culture - I'm so glad we went.

Next: Amanohashadate



Soldier Walking
Tags: costume, Japan, parade
Packed Train
Tags: crowd, Japan, train
Parade Walking Past Torches
Location: Go To...
Tags: fire, Japan, parade
Fire By Cell Phone
Tags: fire, Japan
Stocking Fires
Tags: fire, Japan, sparks
Pulling Torch
Tags: fire, Japan, parade
Human Archery Target
Tags: costume, Japan, parade
Setting Up Torch
Tags: fence, fire, Japan
Packed Door
Tags: crowd, Japan, train
Mounted Horseman
Tags: costume, Japan, parade
Torch On Ground
Tags: costume, fire, Japan
Foot Soldiers
Tags: costume, Japan, parade
Little Bird
Tags: costume, Japan, parade
Geishas On Stage
Tags: costume, Japan, parade
Orange Pulling Rope
Tags: costume, Japan, parade
Sparks Coming Off Torch
Tags: fire, Japan, sparks
Bureaucrat
Tags: costume, Japan, parade
Tags: Japan(17), parade(10), costume(9), fire(7), sparks(2), train(2)
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > A Second Trip to Japan > Festivals in Kyoto
From: John Harvey Photo > Trips out of the Country > A Fourth Trip to Japan > Kyoto > Festivals in Kyoto
From: John Harvey Photo > A Fourth Trip to Japan > Kyoto > Festivals in Kyoto

awsome pictues
sabrina
Sunday, October 7th, 2007 at 21:49:49

Beautiful festivals
brigita
Sunday, April 10th, 2011 at 02:41:48

Leave a Comment

Some HTML allowed: <b>, <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>, but most isn't.  Text length is limited.  comments from first time authors will be reviewed before being posted. comments with swearing or painfully poor spelling will probably be rejected.


Last Modified Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 at 00:44:13 Edit
Copyright and Contact Information.