Kyoto, Japan 1967

As each new year rings in, top on my list of to-do’s is sort, collate, and archive the thousands of boxes of slides my father left for me. Today is Day One.

One tray of slides was marked Gidat Festival and the Kodak stamped date says November 1967.

I didn’t find any reference to the word Gidat but there is a famous Gion Festival every July in Kyoto but I eliminated that festival, based on how the spectators were dressed.

There’s another festival in October, the Jidai Matsuri which fits with the clothing and also the time stamp on the slides. I am going to presume the slides are indeed from the Jidai Festival, as described in Wikipedia:

The Jidai Matsuri, Festival of the Ages is a traditional Japanese festival (also called the matsuri) held on October 22 annually in Kyoto, Japan. It is one of Kyoto’s renowned three great festivals, with the other two being the Aoi Matsuri, held annually on May 15, and the Gion Matsuri, which is held annually from 17 to July 24. It is a festival enjoyed by people of all ages, participating in its historical reenactment parade dressed in authentic costumes representing various periods, and characters in Japanese feudal history.

Jidai Matsuri traces its roots with the relocation of the Japanese capital to Tokyo in 1868. This involved the relocation of the Emperor of Japan and his imperial family, the Imperial Palace and thousands of government officials and subjects to the city. Fearing for Kyoto’s loss in glory and interest by her people, the city government and the Kyoto Prefectural Government commemorated the 1100th anniversary of the founding of Heian-kyō (平安京) which was the former name of Kyoto, in 794 by Emperor Kammu (桓武天皇 Kanmu-tennō) (737 – 806). To inaugurate the first Jidai celebration in 1895, the city government built the Heian Shrine (平安神宮 Heian jingū) to enshrine the spirit of Emperor Kanmu. To add meaning to the festival, it staged a costume procession representing people of each era in Kyoto history. In 1940, the local government decided that on top of honouring Emperor Kammu, the Jidai festival was also to be held in honour of Emperor Kōmei (孝明天皇 Kōmei-tennō) (July 22, 1831 – January 30, 1867) for his work in unifying the country, the power of the imperial court and the affirmation of Kyoto as the center of Japan at the decline of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the Edo Era.

The photos are quite extraordinary, not just the vibrant and historical costumes, but from the perspective of the traditions of Japan and the respect they show their elders.  Good eye, Dad! And even more impressive is the Kodachrome color that still jumps off the page on slides so old.

Click the first image to open a slideshow in which each photo is enlarged.

20 thoughts on “Kyoto, Japan 1967

  1. WOW. The colors are extraordinary. And I love knowing that little boy on his father’s shoulders is over 50 now! Wouldn’t it be great if someone saw this in Japan and recognized themselves?!

    I’ve been to Kyoto a couple of times and found it one of the most beautiful towns on the planet.

    Happy belated New Year. We are just back from a vacation and settling back into a routine and taking the tree down today. 😦

  2. WOW. what a stunning historical archive. E.I. is on point (as usual) and Catherine is right about Kyoto. Just an amazing small city.

    1. LA: I tweeted this post to @Kodak, sadly noting their most recent post says they filed chapter 11 to restructure. I hope this look back reminds them of their stock and trade, Kodachrome film.

  3. Enjoyed the great pictures your dad took. Mr. Idaho’s aunt and her husband lived in Japan for several years when Kodak sent him there to work in their Japanese operation. She sent some great pictures in her Christmas cards.

    1. Mrs. IDAHO: I didn’t realize Kodak had operations in Japan. I’d take that assignment in a split second, the country and culture so intrigues me. I BET your relatives sent great Christmas cards. Japan is so photogenic!

  4. Hi,
    Really great photos. I just love that white horse, s/he is gorgeous, and the costumes are magnificent, must of been great to be there and watch it all.

    1. My father is no longer alive to narrate these photos but mother remembers how she was transfixed by the beauty of the parade. How men and women were ornately adorned. There’s an entire carousel of slides from this one parade and I had a very tough time narrowing it down to thirty!
      The parade still takes place. I will definitely plan my next trip to Kyoto to see this up close and personal.

  5. EOS I found myself saying WOW and WOW and then when I read through the comments I saw that I wasn’t alone. What brilliant photos. What a great idea.

    the photo that captivated me is #118. The Samurai on the horse.
    and 114 the old bent over samurai…

    If this is just day 1 of your Dad’s thousands of pix I can’t wait for day 2.

    1. Rosie: one of the carousels of slides I’m working on now is from your neck of the woods in California. Dated 1959. I’m not quite ready to post them yet as the process is long. I first have to preview all the slides then decide which ones to scan. Day 2 won’t be tomorrow. 🙂

  6. While we’re handing out tributes, may Kodachrome receive its due in passing. RIP Kodak!

    A great age of photography has passed into history.

  7. These scans of actual Kodachrome photos are magnificent on many levels, as in color, composition and context. Having viewed them several times, they really have a lot to offer!
    Now looking forward to seeing more of your father’s historical shots.
    Maybe one day, decades from now, your kids will be your Brazil bikini shot….:)
    Obviously you come from a family that can focus!

  8. The colors are amazingly vivid, EOS. My wife and I are headed back to Japan in September, and this post has me even more excited than I already was.

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