Jidai Matsuri (Festival of Ages) is a big festival in Kyoto and takes place in the fall. You can get a feel for Japanese history and especially Kyoto’s history by watching the festival parade. As such people come from not only all over Japan, but from all over the world, to see the event. Let us tell you how to enjoy learning some history at the Jidai Matsuri with kids!
What is Jidai Matsuri
Along with the Aoi Matsuri and Gion Matsuri, the Jidai Matsuri is considered to be one of Kyoto’s three big festivals. It takes place on the 22nd of October (it will take place on October 26 in 2019). There is a procession of over 2000 participants dressed in period costumes from the Enryaku Era (782-806) all the way to the Meiji Era (1868-1912). The procession moves from the Kyoto Imperial grounds to the Heian Shrine. For more information on Kyoto Imperial Palace, see One day in Kyoto: Relax at Kyoto Imperial Palace Park.
For more information on Heian Shrine is coming soon on this blog.
1. Colorful Costumes
The Jidai Matsuri procession consists of participants wearing period costumes from the Meiji Era (1868-1912) all the way back to the Enryaku Era (782-806). Each era has its own uniqueness, but you can see many colorful pieces. Kids are sure to be excited to see the streets of Kyoto filled with such vivid colors during the Jidai Matsuri.
2. Japan’s Soldiers from the Past
Leading the procession of the Jidai Matsuri are the imperial loyalist troops. These soldiers were in charge of protecting the emperor by fighting in wars. When you see the soldiers dressed in their purple hakama you can truly feel their nobility and holiness. Kids are sure to be impressed by their strong stature.
3. A Japanese Princess
At the Jidai Matsuri, you can also see a representation of the women who have helped shape Japan. With their faces painted white and crimson lips, wearing gorgeous kimono, little girls are sure to be dazzled by their appearance. You can also see singers and proprietresses among women in each period.
4. Differences in Eras
The Jidai Matsuri shows the history of Japan and Kyoto from the Enryaku Era through the Meiji Era, a period of about 1100 years. Other than different period costumes, you can see furniture from different periods as well as traditional crafts in the twenty different groups of the procession. What happened in this era? Why did they use these types of clothes or use these things? Something to enjoy about the Jidai Matsuri is the chance to really think about and unravel the background of history.
5. Yabusame (Horseback Archery)
Yabusame is an equestrian competition that has been around since the Heian Era. There are 3 targets on the riding ground and the rider shoots at them while riding his horse. You can see yabusame at the Jidai Matsuri. Be sure to catch your child’s reaction to this exciting event!
6. 2 1/2 Hour Long Parade
The procession starts at noon at Kyoto Imperial Palace grounds and ends at 14:30 at the Heian Shrine. Below is a time schedule for reference and if you arrive at the place you’d like to watch from a little before the listed time you can find a good spot to watch.
12:00 Kyoto Imperial Palace
12:15 Sakaimachi Gomon
12:30 Karasuma Marutamachi
12:50 Karasuma Oike
13:20 Kawaramachi Oike
13:30 Kawaramachi Sanjo
13:40 Sanjo Ohashi
14:10 Sanjo Jingu Mae
14:30 Heian Shrine
If you want your kids to enjoy learning about history, then the Jidai Matsuri in Kyoto is for you!
If you are traveling to Kyoto, it is nice if you and your kids can learn a little something while having fun, right? Kids may think having to learn about the history of the country they’re visiting is boring… that’s why Jidai Matsuri is perfect for families. You can see the history pass before your eyes in the parade procession so it’s more interesting than studying from a book. Seeing it with their own eyes is sure to make a lasting impression on kids.
If you want to enjoy the Jidai Matsuri without kids
Kyoto with Kids Babysitting
It may be difficult to take a small child with you to the Jidai Matsuri. However, you don`t have to give up going because you have small children. In that case, you can use Kyoto with Kids Babysitting services. Our English speaking, highly trained sitter will take care of your kids in your hotel room. We accept kids from as young as 3 months old and even offer nighttime sitting services for those evenings you’d like to go out to dinner without kids.
For information on Kyoto with Kids Babysitting, see
Kyoto with Kids Club
While some kids may enjoy something like the Jidai Matsuri, others may not be as interested. For those kids, we recommend Kyoto with Kids Club. Our staff will take care of your kids while introducing them to some fun games and some Japanese culture. While kids enjoy their time at our Kids Club, parents can go out and enjoy the Jidai Matsuri in a more relaxed manner.
For information on Kyoto with Kids Club, see https://kyotowithkids.com/services/kyoto-with-kids-club/
Access to Kyoto Jidai Matsuri
Jidai Matsuri (12:00 start at Kyoto Imperial Palace, 14:30 end at Heian Shrine)
Public transportation is generally pretty good in Kyoto, but during the Jidai Matsuri, there are many traffic restrictions. You may not be able to get off the bus at your desired station. We recommend using the subway as much as possible that day. Here are the nearest stations to see the Jidai Matsuri:
- Kyoto City Subway Karasuma Line
- Marutamachi Station
- Karasuma Oike Station
- Kyoto City Subway Tozai Line
- Karasuma Oike Station
- Shiyakusho Mae Station
- Sanjo Station
- Higashiyama Station
※We don’t recommend trying to view the parade with kids from Kyoto Imperial Palace, Marutamachi, Karasuma Oike, or City Hall (Shiyakusho-mae) as they have paid seats there so you can’t get as close to the procession.
We recommend finding a spot between two stations. If you get off the subway at one of the stations on the parade route and then walk away from that station toward the next station, the number of people tends to decrease a little. You can get a good spot and see the parade from the beginning!
For more information about access to the Jidai Matsuri is coming soon on this blog.