Kyoto, Japan. I love a parade but this one is exceptional. It is the Jidai Matsuri and it takes place every October 22nd. Over 1,000 years worth of historic Japanese royalty, military leaders and their entourages parade in costume through the streets of Kyoto. It’s magnificent. The parade’s participants represent Kyoto’s leadership from the Heian Period (about 781 CE) to the Meiji Restoration (1868 CE). Imagine the Western equivalent; English royalty from King Arthur through Queen Victoria festooned in their finery, tramping down the streets of London. I don’t think that happens and I don’t know of another festival like the Jidai Matsuri… do you? (Really, if you do let me know by leaving a comment on this blog.)
I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on anything Japanese, much less this parade. I can tell you that it is a wonder and you should try to see it. The route is long; it takes about two hours for it to pass. It is crowded but not crazy. There are better blogs than mine concerned with detailed history and logistics. I found this one at JapanGuide.com to be excellent.
Photo Stuff: My photography friends will be glad to know that you can get a spot near the action if you arrive an hour or two early. Joanne and I found a spot right inside the south gate of the Imperial Palace. Because we planted ourselves at a place where the parade turned a corner I had the possibility of some dark green foliage for a background. I found my tripod to be a nice-to-have addition. I was rockin’ my Canon D7 Mark II with a 70 – 300mm Canon EF. I left my brighter, bigger glass back home for the sake of lighter, less back-breaking, more agile gear.
– We stayed at the Kyoto APA Ekimae hotel. It is small, even by Japanese standards and we had other issues with the place but none too serious.
– The Kyoto APA Ekimae hotel is very conveniently located to Kyoto Station where you can catch trains, subways and buses to other destinations. We really enjoyed both traveling from the station and hanging out there. You could easily spend several hours exploring this modern, artistic train station.