A Kyoto Spring Tradition, “Aoi Matsuri” (“Hollyhock Festival”)
Aoi Matsuri is an annual festival of Shimogamo Shrine and Kamigamo Shrine. The official name of the festival is Kamo no Matsuri (Kamo Festival).
Aoi Matsuri is one of the three major festivals in Kyoto, and it is known for having old-fashioned sense of refined grace. Out of modern-day Japanese festivals, Aoi Matsuri is one of the few festivals remaining that truly preserves old dynastic traditions.
The festival is held on May 15th every year, and events related to the festival take place from May 1st through May 20th.
Origins of the Festival
Around 1400 years ago, there was a period where extremely harsh rains and winds led to poor grain crop harvests. In response, the people held a festival in hopes of changing their fortunes. When they did, the rain and wind subsided, crops became plentiful, and the populace was at peace.
The spectacular procession includes over 500 people dressed in traditional Heian period apparel and 40 horses and cows. The procession departs from the Kyoto Imperial Palace, travels down to Shimogamo Shrine, and then heads to Kamigamo Shrine.
Video of Aoi Matsuri
Kyoto Imperial Palace 10:30 →Marutamachi-dori→Kawaramachi-dori
→Shimogamo Shrine Ar.11:40 Lv.14:20 → Kamigamo Shrine Ar.15:30
(Times stated above will be sometimes a little behind schedule.)
For those who wish to sit and relax as they watch the procession, we recommend paid seats set up along the roads to Kyoto Imperial Palace and Shimogamo Shrine. One seat costs 2700 yen (designated seats; brochure included). The sight of the spectacular procession passing in front of you is absolutely stunning!
・Kyoto Gyoen Garden (South of Kenreimon) around 10:30am (seated by 10:00)
・Road to Shimogamo Shrine around 11:40am (seated by 11:00)
※Please be aware that due to regulations, you cannot take your seat close to the passing time of the procession.
※Postponed until the following day in case of rain. No refunds.
Kyoto Imperial Palace
- 3 Kyotogyoen, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto
- 5 minutes on foot from Imadegawa Station
- 59 Shimogamoizumigawacho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto
- 10 minutes on foot from Demachiyanagi Station
- 339 Kamigamomotoyama, Kita-ku, Kyoto City, Kyoto
- 25 minutes on foot from Kitayama Station
Basic information on Aoi Matsuri
- Event Date
- May 15th, 2019 (postponed until the following day, the 16th, in case of rain)
- Free (seats available at 2050 yen each)