The Aoi Matsuri

The Aoi Matsuri (葵祭?) is celebrated on May 15 and is one of the three main annual festivals held in Kyoto, Japan.

Aoi Matsuri dates back to the 7th century. It became very popular in the Middle Ages, as a festival to top all others.

During the festival, emissaries leave the Kyoto Imperial Palace and proceed to Shimogamo Shrine (下鴨神社 Shimo-gamo-jinja?) and then to Kamigamo Shrine (上賀茂神社 Kami-gamo-jinja?), two shrines in the north of the city. Participants wear costumes of the Heian period.

The Aoi Matsuri is less a festival and more a spectator event. There are a few competitions of horseback archery and other historical pastimes. Many men with swords and bows walk around, acting as security.

A famous scene in the Tale of Genji takes place during the Aoi Matsuri.

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