Aoi Matsuri or Hollyhock Festival is held on May 15 every year as one of the three big festivals of Kyoto. It is the annual event of Kamigamo and Shimogamo Shrines,（near the KOTO shop) the guardian shrines of the Kyoto capital.
The parade is led by the two police officers each riding on a horse decorated in purple, the color for the high nobles.
This elegant parade is composed of 500 people dressed as nobles and servants of the Heian Era, about 1,000 years ago. The festival queen is the Royal Princess "Saiodai" carried on a palanquin andsome 30 nobles ride on a horse. All the participants are wearing hollyhock leaves on their head or costume. Carriages drawn by an ox are gorgeous .with wisteria decoration.
The parade starts from the Old Imperial Palace Garden, goes through Shimogamo Shrine and ends at Kamigamo Shrine, which takes 6 hours. Reserved seats are available to watch the parade at the Garaden. One seat: 2,050 yen.
Of course, you can watch the parade for free at many places along the route. My recommendation is the Kamo river bank lined with huge old trees.
Get out of the subway Kitaoji Station around 2 p.m., walk diagonally forward right for five minutes and you'll get to the river bank. The farther you walk, the less spectators. In half an hour, the parade will come into your eyes in a slow and elegant manner.
You can see it along the Kamo River from Kitaoji Bridge to Misono Bridge.
The procession seen in the fresh greenery is really nice.
Please enjoy it once！