Aoi Festival

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The Aoi Festival is a festival of both the Shimogamo Shrine and the Kamigamo Shrine held in Kyoto City on May 15th. The official name of the festival is Kamo Festival. In the mid-6th century, a serious famine occurred. Emperor Kinmei asked a fortune teller for guidance to handle the problem. The fortune teller told the emperor that the famine was caused by the gods’ anger. Therefore the emperor ordered a ceremonial festival to soften their anger. The festival today is known for its elegant parade with people dressed in classic costumes of the Heian Period.

Aoi Festival’s highlight is its parade with people dressed in classic costumes of the Heian-period. Special carriages called ‘Gosho Guruma’ and oxcarts, which were common 1,000 years ago, can be seen. The name of the festival was derived from the fact that starting in 1694, everything in the procession, such as the people, carts and the oxcarts, became to be decorated with hollyhock leaves, which are called “aoi” in Japanese. The parade starts from the Kyoto Imperial Palace and proceeds through town to the Shimogamo Shrine, and then on to the Kamigamo Shrine. It seems like a reproduction of a historical scene from an ancient scroll.

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