The largest shrine in the otherwise very buddhist city of Tokyo is the massive Heian Jingu. It was supposed to have been even bigger, but due to land and money shortages when it was built in 1895 they had to settle on a small size. Built in a slightly unusual style, it was intended as a copy of the old imperial palace as it would have looked during the Heian period, but it is now used as a shrine dedicated to the souls of two emperors. The massive torii, the distinctive gate set well to the front of the shrine itself is one of the largest in the country although made in concrete. Heian Jingu is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Kyoto and is also famous for its massive gardens. Entrance is free to the shrine grounds itself, but the garden is about 600 yen to enter I think. Although shrines might not be on the top of the list of things to see when in Kyoto, it is worth a visit if you have the time!
Having done my fair share of Tokyo festivals I spent last week in Kyoto in western Japan, to attend the annual Jidai Matsuri, or the festival of the ages (時代祭り). It is one of the big three festivals of Tokyo and it ties in with a few other amazing festivals that I didn’t have time to see, but all in all, October 22nd is a great day to be in the Kyoto area. 2000 people take part in this five hour long procession from The Imperial Palace to the Heian Shrine and thousands of people line the streets to see the costumes of long gone eras, starting from 1300 years ago and moving forward to the recent past. Naturally there’s a lot of palace costumes, seeing as Kyoto was for many centuries the home of the Emperor, but there’s also a few more common costumes and quite a few soldiers, entertainers and priests represented in the parade that show us how Kyoto has changed during the different eras. Kyoto is of course famous for the fantastic museum of fashion, so if you are interested in ancient and not so ancient costumes, a couple of days spent here is probably a very good idea. It was an unseasonably warm day in Kyoto without a cloud on the sky, and since this was the first time I could attend this festival I had no idea where to stand to get the best shots except to just try and stay out of the sun. I can only imagine how the poor people in these costumes and make up must have felt! Here’s a few of the costumes, but I will show more over this and next week. Enjoy!