Roto-no-gi of Aoi Matsuri Festival (May 15th, 2024)

Roto-no-gi of Aoi Matsuri Festival

Roto-no-gi (procession) of Aoi Matsuri Festival (Aoi Festival) is presented here. Roto-no-gi (procession), which is the highlight of Aoi Matsuri Festival, is held every year on May 15th. However, in case of bad weather, it is postponed to the following day, the 16th. On Roto-no-gi, the procession of imperial envoys, Saio-dai, and others leaves the Kyoto Imperial Palace for Shimogamo Shrine and Kamigamo Shrine in order to perform Shato-no-gi at both shrines.

【Roto-no-gi (procession) 2024 Schedule (confirmation required)】

Roto-no-gi (procession) will depart from Kenreimon-mae, Kyoto Imperial Palace on Wednesday, May 15th, 2024, at 10:30. However, in case of bad weather, it will be postponed to the following Thursday, May 16th. In addition, Roto-no-gi may be canceled if it rains during the procession.
Aoi Matsuri Festival 2024

【Aoi Matsuri Festival Roto-no-gi route & map】

★Departure from Kyoto Imperial Palace (10:30) → Sakaimachi-gomon → Marutamachi-dori (around 11:00) → Kawaramachi-dori → Arrival at Shimogamo Shrine (around 11:40)
★Departure from Shimogamo Shrine (14:20) → Shimogamo-hondori → Rakuhoku High School-mae (around 14:40) → Kitaoji-dori → Kitaoji Bridge (around 14:55) → Kamo-gawa Riverbank → Arrival at Kamigamo Shrine (around 15:30)

【Roto-no-gi (procession) brief overview】

Roto-no-gi (procession, 路頭の儀) of Aoi Matsuri Festival is held in order to perform Shato-no-gi at Shimogamo Shrine and Kamigamo Shrine. At Shatou-no-gi, the Saimon, a ritual text containing the emperor’s words, is read and the Heimotsu is offered to the gods. During Roto-no-gi, the procession first goes from the Kyoto Imperial Palace (Kyoto Gyoen) to Shimogamo Shrine, and after arriving at Shimogamo Shrine, Shato-no-gi is held. The procession then goes from Shimogamo Shrine to Kamigamo Shrine, and after arriving at Kamigamo Shrine, Shato-no-gi is held. At Roto-no-gi, the procession consists of about 500 people dressed in Heian period (794-1185) costumes, about 40 horses, 4 cows, 2 gissha (ox carts), 1 koshi (palanquin), and it is about 1 km long. The procession is led by the Heian Kibatai of the Kyoto Prefectural Police. The procession is broadly divided into the main procession of the imperial envoys and the Saio-dai procession of the Saio-dai. The main procession consists of Norijiri, Kebiishi-no-Sakan, Kebiishi-no-Jo, Yamashiro-Tsukai, Goheibitsu, Kuraryo-no-shishou, Meryo-tsukai, Gissha (ox carts), Ouma (horses), Wagoto, Maibito, Beiju, Kuradukai, Imperial Envoy, Hikiuma, Furyu-gasa, etc. The Saio-dai procession consists of Myobu, Nyoju, Saio-dai, Munanori-onna, Kurododokoro Beiju, Gissha (ox carts) Myobu, etc.

【Aoi Matsuri Festival and Roto-no-gi History】

It is said that Aoi Matsuri Festival (Aoi Festival, Kamo Matsuri Festival, 葵祭, 賀茂祭) began during the reign of the 29th Emperor Kinmei (539-571). During the reign of Emperor Kinmei, wind and flood disasters caused famine and epidemics, and Urabe no Ikiwakahiko’s fortune telling said that it was a curse from Kamo-no-Okami, so the festival was held on a lucky day in April, when horses were hung with bells, people wore boar heads, and the horse race was held, which is said to be the origin of Aoi Matsuri Festival. After that, in 807, Aoi Matsuri Festival became an imperial ceremony to be held by dispatching an imperial envoy. In 810, Kamo-Saiin was established to serve Aoi Matsuri Festival, following the Saigu system of Ise Jingu Shrine, and in 819, Aoi Matsuri Festival was held in the same Chushi as at Ise Jingu Shrine. During the Jogan period (859-876), a ritual order was established and a magnificent ritual was completed. However, the general public was rarely allowed to see the rituals at Kamo shrines (Shimogamo Shrine and Kamigamo Shrine), and in order to watch Roto-no-gi (procession), the imperial family and court nobles lined up ox carts and set up piers along the road from the Imperial Palace to Kamo Shrine. In the mid-Heian period (794-1185), the festival flourished to such an extent that the word “festival” simply referred to Aoi Matsuri Festival. However, Aoi Matsuri Festival gradually declined after the Kamakura period (1185-1333), and was discontinued for about 200 years after the Onin War (1467-1477), which occurred in the middle of the Muromachi period (1336-1573). Although it was difficult to revive the old rituals, Aoi Matsuri Festival was revived in 1694 with the enthusiasm of Kamo shrines, the understanding of the imperial court and the court nobles, and the cooperation of the Edo Shogunate, and continued until 1870. After that, Aoi Matsuri Festival was discontinued, but in 1884, the 122nd Emperor Meiji restored the old ritual, and Aoi Matsuri Festival was solemnly held together with Kasuga Matsuri at Kasuga Taisha Shrine and Ishimizu Matsuri at Ishimizu Hachiman Shrine. In 1926, Roto-no-gi (procession) was further developed, but in 1943, during the war, it was canceled and only Shato-no-gi was held. In 1953, Roto-no-gi (procession) was revived with the support of the Aoi Matsuri Gyoretsu Kyosankai and in 1956, the Saio-dai procession centered on Saio-dai, was restored, and the beautiful and magnificent procession paraded through Kyoto City as in the past.

【Roto-no-gi of the Heian period】

During the Heian period (794-1185), the Heian-kyu (Dai-dairi) was located on the west side of the present Kyoto Imperial Palace, surrounded by Ichijo-dori to the north, Nijo-dori to the south, Omiya-dori to the east, and Onmae-dori to the west. Also, the Kamo Saiin of Saio, who served at Aoi Matsuri Festival, was located around the present Ichidani Nanano Shrine (Kamigyo-mae-dori Chiekoin higashi-iru, Kamigyo-ku). The Hobeishi procession of imperial envoys departed from the Heian-kyu and proceeded east along Ichijo-Oji, while the Saio procession departed from the Kamo Saiin and proceeded south along Omiya-dori, rendezvousing at Ichijo-Omiya, and proceeding east along Ichijo-Oji. The Hobeishi procession consists of Warawa (child) dressed in suikan, Zoshiki, Shoso, Fusho, Konoe-no-Tsukai, Ikai dressed in suikan, Toneri, Teburi, Jusha dressed in kariginu and Gubuso (monk). At Ichijo Oji, piers were set up and ox carts of the imperial family and nobles were lined up, and it was full of spectators from the imperial family and nobles to the common people.

【Roto-no-gi of Aoi Matsuri Festival remarks】
Always check with the organizer for event information. Information on this site is for reference only. Contents of the event may have changed.


  1. 錦市場(Nishiki Market)
  2. 竹林の道(Bamboo Forest Path)
  3. 嵐山