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Jidai Matsuri (時代祭り) / Kyoto

The Jidai Matsuri (時代祭り) Festival of the Ages is a traditional Japanese festival (also called the matsuri) held on October 22 annually in Kyoto, Japan. It is one of Kyoto's renowned three great festivals, with the other two being the Aoi Matsuri, held annually on May 15, and the Gion Matsuri, which is held annually from 17 to July 24.
It is a festival enjoyed by people of all ages, participating in its historical reenactment parade dressed in authentic costumes representing various periods, and characters in Japanese feudal history.

Jidai Matsuri traces its roots with the relocation of the Japanese capital to Tokyo in 1868. This involved the relocation of the Emperor of Japan and his imperial family, the Imperial Palace and thousands of government officials and subjects to the city. Fearing for Kyoto's loss in glory and interest by her people, the city government and the Kyoto Prefectural Government commemorated the 1100th anniversary of the founding of Heian-kyō (平安京) which was the former name of Kyoto, in 794 by Emperor Kammu (桓武天皇, Kanmu-tennō) (737 - 806).
http://www.geocities.jp/yamachankmth/yamachankmth/PA220571.JPG

To inaugurate the first Jidai celebration in 1895, the city government built the Heian Shrine (平安神宮, Heian jingū) to enshrine the spirit of Emperor Kanmu. To add meaning to the festival, it staged a costume procession representing people of each era in Kyoto history. In 1940, the local government decided that on top of honouring Emperor Kammu, the Jidai festival was also to be held in honour of Emperor Kōmei (孝明天皇, Kōmei-tennō) (July 22, 1831 - January 30, 1867) for his work in unifying the country, the power of the imperial court and the affirmation of Kyoto as the center of Japan at the decline of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Edo Era.
File:Jidaiwomansamurai.jpg
(Jidai Woman Samurai)

The Jidai Matsuri begins early morning with the mikoshi (portable shrines) brought out of the Old Imperial Palace for people to pay their respects; each mikoshi represents Emperor Kanmu and Emperor Kōmei respectively. The costume procession takes off in the afternoon, with approximately 2,000 costume performers dressed as samurai, military figures and common people from the earliest eras to the Meiji era in the five-hour, 2-km procession route to the Shrine. This is followed by a procession of Japanese womenfolk dressed in elaborate jūnihitoe (十二単衣, juunihitoe).

(Jūnihitoe (十二単衣) / Image)

And trailing at the end of the procession, the mikoshi being carried from the Palace along with costumed military band playing the gagaku towards the Heian Shrine where the procession ends.

By T.S. on Sep 29, 2010
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