Tokyo Jidai Matsuri

I’ll start with my own personal favourite from the whole thing:

The Tokyo Jidai Matsuri is an annual parade that depicts key events in Tokyo history through the ages (jidai means “era” or “period”). It’s one of those festivals that you might think has been around for a loooong time, but, actually, according to, it started in 1999 as part of an event called “Tokyo Renaissance” 1988 (edited – see comments below), an attempt to promote the Asakusa area and its historical significance in the history of Edo. Just so there’s no confusion, Kyoto has a more famous Jidai Matsuri that’s been running since the late 1800s and is held on October 22nd every year.

Anyway, last November, I knew the Jidai Matsuri was on, but I didn’t have any particular plan to go and watch it. However, as I was very near Asakusa by chance (I went there to buy a ticket for the Tobu line to Nikko), I strolled over and spent an hour or so watching “The Ages” pass by. I was pleasantly surprised on many fronts: the streets were nowhere near as crowded as I had anticipated (which was my original reason for not really wanting to go), everyone in the parade seemed to really be enjoying themselves, and the costumes were fantastic.

Fortunately, I had my 135L with me and it was easy to get right up to the front, so, this is what it’s all about (if you’re interested in details about the costumes in terms of period or meaning, this website has detailed descriptions).








Okay, not everyone looked happy to be there…





This guy reminds me of Cyrano de Bergerac for some reason…








Okay, this guy wasn’t actually in the parade but he was pretty cute in his absolute refusal to walk one inch further…


More info on the parade here

By the way, if you are running a blog and you ever want to insert more than two or three images in one post, do yourself a favour and get the Faster Image Insert plugin – it’s a brilliant solution to the very irritating built-in method of inserting images one-by-one.


I haven’t been participating in Show Me Japan for the past few weeks (hectic weekends, it seems), but this is my entry for Show Me Japan Vol. I issue XV

You can read more about Show Me Japan by clicking the image below:

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  • Anonymous

    Who needs cosplayers when you have these. Awesomeness!

    • Thanks, lina1975!

      An interesting connection…you can definitely see where some of the cosplay looks come from when you look at some of the matsuri costumes

  • That dog owns owns this post 🙂 Brilliant!

    • LOL…I knew someone would pick the dog as the best of the bunch…what’s really funny is that I was back in Asakusa the following day and saw the same little guy again – must live in the ‘hood.

  • Ditto to Anna’s comment, the dog wins! (Even though all the other pictures are fantastic!!)

    • Thanks, Lisa! It was pretty funny: he just would not move at all, so he was sitting there in his pink t-shirt resisting his owner’s pull.

  • Great entry with a fantastic photos! As far as I am concerned, this is my first time seeing Sarutahiko (in the second photo) wearing relatively dark kimono both at the parade and at Kagura performance!!! Very interesting and he somehow fits in dark blue.
    Thanks for sharing and have a wonderful Sunday night.

    • Thanks, Yoshii! Interesting…I never really thought about it, but, you’re right his kimono is rather dark. His bottoms were white and gold though.

      Hope your Sunday was a good one (over to soon though, ね?)

  • Awesome photos!!! Loved them all…gifted! Especially the woman frowning in black and white. perfect pantomime!

    • Thanks, Loco! LOL…yes, I like her look too – she didn’t look too happy about me and my camera and I love those moments when I get “caught” just about to take the shot.

  • Wow! These are amazing! Actually I once hunted for this parade and missed it! I will have to be there next time!

    • Thanks very much, Kawaii Culture!

      It’s a bit of a late start, actually, but this should help you find it next year (from an Asakusa calendar website):

      “The parade leaves the square behind Sensoji Temple at 1:30 p.m. and proceeds along Umamichi-dori from Nitenmon Gate, in front of Asakusa Matsuya Department Store, along Kaminarimon-dori, to Kaminarimon Gate and ends in Asakusa Tawaramachi at 3:30 p.m.”

      I was sort of near the Tawaramachi end and it was much less crowded than near Kaminarimon Gate (I walked up there as I was leaving and took a few photos)

  • Thank you for sharing, these are just wonderful. I wish i could have been there in person.

    • Laura

      Thanks, Judi! And thanks for the visit here – at least you were able to get the feel of it…
      It’ll be on again on November 3rd, so mark your calendar. 🙂

  • Hello.Very impressive photos.I really like these photos.
    I came from show me Japan.

  • These are fantastic pictures–particularly considering that you were shooting during a parade! I covet your lens!

  • jenni

    actually I went to see the Tokyo jidai matsuri in the early 90s so the information about the starting date is incorrect

    • Thanks for your comment, Jenni. I try to be as accurate as possible, but obviously failed here. Oddly, when I originally wrote the post, I found the start date on a website that claimed the “Asakusa Tourist Federation” as its source and I took that at face value. However, spurred by your comment that you’d been before 1999, I just did a quick check on Japanese Wikipedia, which states that the start year for Tokyo’s Jidai Matsuri was 1988. I’ll assume this is the correct year, and edit the original post (above). Either way, it’s a surprisingly “new” festival (relative to Kyoto’s Jidai Matsuri).