An elegant procession from the picturesque Heian period【May 15】Aoi Festival
The Aoi Festival is one of the three largest festivals in Kyoto and is an important annual festival of both Shimogamo Shrine and Kamigamo Shrine.
The festival’s official name is the Kamo Festival and it began in the mid-6th century when Emperor Kinmei ordered a ceremonial festival to be held in an attempt to end a serious famine.
Aoi are the hollyhock leaves which decorate everything in the procession from the costumes of participants to the oxen pulling the carts.
The highlight of the festival is the huge, elegant procession that departs from the Kyoto Imperial Palace and proceeds to Kamigamo Shrine via Shimogamo Shrine (on May 15th).
People dressed in Heian period classic costumes parade through the city.
The procession consists of over 500 people, about 40 horses, 4 oxen and two oxcarts.
Kyoto Imperial Palace / Marutamachi subway station Shimogamo Shrine,Kyoto City Bus #205 Shimogamojinja-mae
Kamigamo Shrine / Kyoto City Bus #9 Kamigamo Misonobashi.
*The festival will be postponed in the case of rain.
Kamokurabe Uma-e Ashizoroe
Ceremony: From 13:00, prior to the Kurabe Uma Shinji on the 5th, the condition of the horses is checked and the race line up for the event on the 5th is decided.
Kamo Kurabe Uma: From 10:00, this ritual originated in the Imperial court
During the ritual, horses for the festival are purified, and pairs of horses compete for speed.
Yabusame Shinji: From 13:00, riders dressed in traditional costumes shoot arrows at a target while galloping at full speed.
Saio-dai Misogi Purification Ritual: From 10:00, the Saio-dai (reigning festival queen) is chosen, and then she and her 50 servants undergo a sacred purification ritual.
Busha Shinji: From 11:00, this ancient ritual takes place before the main festival
Priests use bows and arrows to ward off evil spirits
Other arrow shooting rituals are also held.
Mikage Festival: From 9:30, the sacred spirit of this festival is welcomed to Shimogamo Shrine prior to the main festival
At 16:00, elegant Japanese dance and music is performed.
Aoi Festival viewing seat ticket is available at Kyoto Tourist Information Center (KYO Navi & Kyoto City Tourism Association). ¥2,050 for a reserved seat in Kyoto Imperial Park & Shimogamo Shrine. ¥3,500 for a reserved seat with English earphone guide (Imperial Park only)
*Ticket is not refundable as the festival is postponed in the case of rain.
The information on this site is reprinted from the May 2017 issue of Kyoto Visitor's Guide. ◎AD BRAIN INC. Published on 17.04.20
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