1. I went to Aoi Matsuri

I went to Aoi Matsuri

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Yuichiro Sazuka

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Hi everyone!


Today’s topic is about things what I’ve learned from Aoi Matsuri.


On a hot day, Monday May 15, I went to Aoi Matsuri.


I hope this local information here will help those who are planning to go to upcoming summer festivals in Kyoto.






<What is Aoi Matsuri>


Aoi Matsuri is one of the biggest three festivals in Kyoto. The festival is known as the most elegant and wabi-sabi-ish festival in Japan. The old fashioned parade which is decorated like people actually lived in Heian period. They start to walk at Kyoto Imperial Palace. The number of the parade is over five hundreds of people. The well-decorated parade heads for the Kamigamo Shrine via the Shimogamo Shrine.  (from Kyoto City Tourism Information)


※Please review another article about Aoi Matsuri we posted last week for more information of the festival. ()




On the day of the festival, we discussed where we should watch the parade before we left our office.


Author: “Where’s the best place to watch the parade?”

Staff A: “Hm I want to take a lot of pictures of the parade at somewhere Kyoto-ish,”

Author: “I have no idea, isn’t there such a place?”

Staff A: “Well, how about Imade Bridge?”

Author: “Okay, let’s go there and see how it’ll go.”



This is the map showing the route of the parade. (from Kyoto City Tourism Association)



The parade was supposed to arrive at Imade Bridge at 11:45 am, and it was 10:45 am when we were at the office, so we got ready in  a hurry.
Taking Keihan Train from Gion Shijo Station to Demachiyanagi Station is a quickest way from our office.



This is Keihan Train (luxurious version, but the same fare for a ticket)


By the way, Gion Shijo is one of the most popular spots in Kyoto, especially famous for maiko and geiko. A lot of tourist stop by Gion Shijo to take pictures of maiko and geiko.


In the train, we were talking,

Author: “Do you think a lot of people are coming to the festival although it’s a weak day?”

Staff A: “Yeah, maybe.”

Author: “I don’t think so because it’s Monday. There may be only tourists, I think.”

Staff A: “Hm, let’s see…”


While we’re talking about the festival, the train arrived at Demachiyanagi Station.






<Arriving at Demachi-bashi>





Author: “Wow, people are packed here. . .”

Staff A: “I said so, right?”



We cannot give up to take pictures. As we were there, we had to complete our task.


Author: “Can’t I take pictures if I extend my arms, can I?”





Pictures are taken like:





Author: “…”

Staff A: “Should we change a place?”

Author: “Yeah we should.”






<Before Arriving at Shimogamo Shrine>


As it was crowded like chaos around Imadegawa Bridge, so we moved to Shimogamo Shrine, the brief stop of the parade.



Red circle shows where Shimogamo Shrine is on the map.


There are a few people around the shrine, so I could take some nice pictures.



Beautiful view of the river.

There is a cool breeze and the weather is perfect on the day!






<Arriving at Shimogamo Shrine>


After 10 minute walk from Imadegawa Bridge, we arrived at Shimogamo Shrine, one of the world heritages.


Author: “Okay, now we can take better photos!”




Author: “…. well.”
Staff A: “Hold out a little bit more?”

Author: “Okay.”


A bit advance,





And more,




And more,




Then ・・・・・




We’re able to take the best picture of the day!
After taking lots of lots of pictures at the festival, we went back to the office.







<Teachings from Aoi Matsuri>


Things I’ve leaned at Aoi Matsuri are:



・Planning is very important before going to a big festival.

・In summer, it gets very hot during the day time, so don’t forget to drink water as much as you can.

・Keep in mind it’s crowded at all summer festivals in Kyoto City. No expection.




As I said, planning is a key to fully enjoy festivals in Kyoto.

You can avoid situations we had at Aoi Matsuri by paying attention to two tips:


Tip I: Seat Reservations

You can buy a ticket for a paid seat at Kyoto Imperial Palace and Shimogamo Shrine. By having  a seat reservation, you can avoid crowdedness.

Tickets are available for purchase from:https://ticket.rakuten.co.jp/features/kyoto_aoi/index.html

※The URL is for 2017, so thickets for 2018 still aren’t available.


Tip II: Arriving a target place one hour before the parade passes

It’s important to do research of the route of the parade. To get the best spot to take pictures, you should arrive at a target place to save your space one hour prior the parade passes through.


For more information about the parade, please take a look at the website below,



Please be prepared in advance and enjoy upcoming summer festivals in Kyoto!