May. 09, 2018 UPDATE

The beginning summer in Kyoto is fun too! Traditional festivals of Kyoto in May

The weather is getting warmer, and many traditional festivals and events await you in Kyoto!
aoi festival

The weather gets warmer in May as summer begins, and it’s a nice time to go outside, enjoy the sunlight and summery scenery. There are also many traditional festivals and events that take place in May. The most famous of these festivals is Aoi Matsuri, one of the three most famous festivals of Kyoto. The month of May is full of historic festivals and events, and you can take part in the celebratory atmosphere. It almost feels as if you had gone back in time, to an earlier part of Kyoto’s history!


1Fujinomori Matsuri

Fujinomori Matsuri takes place at Fujinomori Shrine, a shrine famous as a place to pray for success in academic matters and for victory in battles, and the festival is held to pray for the prosperity of the country and good health to the emperor. The most famous part of the festival is “kakeuma-shinji,” in which riders show great skill in doing stunts on horseback. 


On Children’s Day (May 5th), a samurai parade is held at the shrine and you also get to see beautiful samurai armor on display. There is also a miniature shrine carrying-parade, so be sure not to miss this part of the festival! 



2Yabusame-Shinji

Yabusame-Shinji is a horseback-archery event held at the forest known as Tadasu no Mori in front of Shimogamo Shrine. This festival is held in preparation for Aoi Matsuri, and by doing the mounted archery the riders are purifying the ground for the Aoi Matsuri procession. 

 

The sound of the clapping hoofs and the whoosh-sound the arrows make when they fly to their targets, all make this event very exciting. As the riders are very fast, taking pictures is difficult so I recommend taking video of the event. 



3Inari Festival

This festival is held at the world-renowned sightseeing spot of Fushimi Inari Shrine, and it takes place between April 22 and May 3. In this festival, miniature shrines are carried on the streets surrounding the shrine to pray for prosperity to the local parishioners. 

The miniature shrines look like this, and they’re paraded on trucks around the area surrounding the shrine. They really do make the shrine feel more festive and in some ways even more stately than normal. 



4Aoi Matsuri

Aoi Matsuri is one of the three most famous festivals in Kyoto, and so it’s only natural that many tourists come to see it. The historic procession leaves in the morning from the Kyoto Imperial Palace, and you get to see the mighty procession of people dressed in Heian period (794-1185) court outfits. 

The procession is divided into two parts, the main procession, and the Saio-dai procession with the with the Saio princess in it. The procession starts from the Imperial Palace and goes through Shimogamo Shrine to Kamigamo Shrine. There are also ox carts, like in the picture, decorated with purple wisterias. The weather can be quite hot, and you spend a lot of time outside watching the parade, so be sure to prepare some water, a hat, and preferably a parasol too. 



5Enmusubi Jishu Festival

Enmusubi Jishu Festival takes place at Jishu Shrine, which is located right behind Kiyomizu Shrine. The shrine is famous as a place to pray for finding a partner, so many people from both Japan and overseas visit this shrine to find a partner, or just to make their relationship stronger. 

On the first Sunday of every month, at 2 p.m., the Enmusubi Jishu Festival is held at the shrine. This festival together with the “Love Stones” of the shrine is a great way for you to increase your partner-finding luck! 


Vanessa[ Sharing Kyoto Staff ] STAFF DETAIL
The weather in May may be hot, but for Kyoto, it’s still very bearable, so let’s go for a walk outside! Many traditional events take place in May, but the most special one for me is Aoi Matsuri. I took so many pictures of the court nobles in the procession! As these events are really popular, I recommend going early and making sure you get a good spot to watch the festivities.
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