Jidai Matsuri Strolls Up
Jidai Matsuri (Festival of Ages), one of Kyoto's three biggest festivals along with Aoi Matsuri and Gion Matsuri, will be held this Saturday, October 22. With about two thousand participants wearing historically accurate costumes from all periods of Japan's past, I think it is the best two hours of photography you can have in Japan. Most Japanese photographers strive to get an image of the procession coming down the gravel road inside the Kyoto Imperial Palace, where the parade begins at noon.
Since I consider it a mortal sin to intentionally take a photograph that is very similar to what another photographer might be taking, I avoid being inside the Imperial Palace once the parade starts. I much prefer to photograph on the street outside the palace, where the dark green trees provide a much more pleasing (and less cliched) background for images.
As with any event in Kyoto, I recommend that photographers arrive at least two hours early to scout around and find a good spot. Since the festival is on a Saturday this year, the streets of Kyoto will be particularly crowded. If you don't want to photograph inside or outside the Imperial Palace, I recommend finding a spot on Sanjo Dori East of Keihan Sanjo Station. I avoid the parade as it gets closer to Heian Shrine because the crowd can be several people deep along the narrow street, making it very difficult to get anywhere and even more difficult to get a decent image.