22nd October, 2006 - So what's there to do on 22nd of October? In Kyōto, that can only mean one thing (at least during the day). Jidai Matsuri (the Festival of the Ages). It's an amazing historical costume-drama-par-excellence that starts at Kyōto Gosho and culminates at Heian-Jingu . A snapshot of 1200 years of history in a fantastic street parade. T-chan and I had booked seats just down from Kyōto Gosho (the origin), though you can quite easily view the parade from free vantage points along the route (just not quite as comfortably as there's half the country trying to get a look at the same time).
This festival is relatively young, starting in 1895 AD for the 1,100th anniversary of the city (and perhaps as a way of maintaining a claim to history as the focus of Japanese power progressively shifted to Tokyo).
Now that's what I call a flag...
The parade is strange in that it runs in reverse. It starts out with modern times, and progressively reaches back into the depths of history of this great city. The whole parade takes 2-3 hours to complete, and whilst it's always interesting, it's slow-paced and I'd recommend splashing out for the seats. You also get a good programme in both Japanese and English included with the tickets.
We start this long journey (ain't going to fit into one post I'm afraid) with a promise. I can promise I won't be able to explain all the historical figures that form the parade, but I hope at least you will get a flavour of the day and of some of the history of the city. Or at least enjoy the spectacle.
The Meiji Restoration. Mixing modern (for the time) with traditional. Western with Eastern. A strange period where Japan stepped from the shadows of feudalism and gripped the modern world in a kind of death-embrace. All with typical staid Japanese conservative reverence combined with revolutionary zeal that we've come to expect.