The Aoi Matsuri is one of the oldest and most celebrated festivals in Japan. So much so, the word “Matsuri” originally referred only to the Aoi festival. Full of pageantry, the festival transforms the usually tranquil parklands into a big costume party, with people dressed in Heian period (794–1185) court regalia parading from the Imperial Palace. Full of pomp and occasion, it culminates at the Shimagamo Shrine, where the townsfolk celebrate with dancing and games, like archery competitions and horse races. It is where formality is infused with folklore and laughter.
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