Sat, May
15

Aoi Matsuri

10:30am – 3:30pm
Free

Also known as the Hollyhock Festival, this is one of the city’s biggest events and is a great chance to see traditional costumes on parade from the Imperial Palace to the Kamo shrines. Over 500 people participate, all wearing hollyhock leaves in addition to their costumes. You can expect to see men on horseback, ornate carts and women in kimono too. Each year, an unmarried woman is selected to take the role of Saio—originally the youngest member of the Imperial Family and high priestess of the Kamo shrines.

The procession begins at the Imperial Palace from 10:30am and passes via Shimogamo Shrine to Kamigamo Shrine, where it finishes at 3.30pm.

There are paid seats along the route and even ones with English audio-translation in the Imperial Palace, or you can just line up and try to get a good spot somewhere along the route. You can book seats here. You can also purchase tickets at convenience stores like Lawson and Family Mart or at the Kansai Tourist Information Center in Kyoto, the Kyoto General Tourist Information Center and the Kawaramachi Sanjo Tourist Information Corner (more locations here). Tickets cost ¥2,700 for a reserved seat or ¥4,300 or a live audio description in English of the procession.

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