The Jidai Matsuri, one of the biggest festivals in Kyoto, marks the date when the capital was moved to Kyoto in 794. It is called the Festival of Ages, as it depicts the people in Japanese history spanning the Heian to Meiji era. Omikoshi (portable shrines) of the first and last Kyoto Emperors lead some 2000 participants in exquisite period costume from various time periods travel in a 2 km procession from The Imperial Palace to Heian Shrine.
Other Events in October
October 19th - 21st
Business people flock to Ebisu Shrine to buy fukuzasa, a branch of bamboo decorated with lucky charms. The branch is displayed at one's business to help ensure a prosperous future. Ebisu, one of the seven gods of good fortune and the patron diety of merchants is celebrated. Special music is played in the shrine and vendors set up stalls as common in many Japanese matsuri festivals. knives produced by the Oima school, well known among cooks, are put on display. The festival originated in the Edo period, when Kyoto merchants returning from business trips to Edo (present-day Tokyo) would visit this shrine to give thanks for a successful journey.
Himatsuri is an annual fire festival that takes place in Kurama, a small suburb north of Kyoto. Originally the festival made the way to illuminate the path for departed spirits. Starting at 6pm, 3 meter tall watch fires called kagaribi are lit at once in front of homes. Boys carrying small taimatsu torches parade through the streets announcing the opening of the festival, and after them, men carrying large torches, some weighing more than 80 kg follow. after them teams of men chanting and marching to the rhythms of drums carry larger and larger torches, the biggest of which weighs 100 kilograms. The torch bearers finally converge in front of Yuki-jinja Shrine and a portable shrine, or mikoshi, is carried through the smoky streets until the festival ends. This festival is truly unique and should be seen by anyone in Kyoto on the day it takes place.
Later in the evening, people gather at the gateway of Kurama Temple to pay their respects. The festival reaches its climax when two omikoshi (portable shrines) carried by youths are paraded through the town streets.