From Bento & Co. "Today in Kyoto, Aoi Matsuri was held. It it a beautiful festival where hundreds of participants dress in anicent garb and enact the festival as it was held hundreds of years ago. The festival began in the 6th century as a way to appease the gods that were seen to be causing the great number of hardships the people were experiencing at the time, such as disasterous rains that devestated the local crops. The festival gets its name from the word for hollyhock, aoi, which was believed to guard against natural disasters. The emperor at the time, Kinmei, sent messengers to the local shrine in order to try to appease the gods, which wrere seen as causing the people’s hardships. The appeasement was done by the performance of vairous acts, such as horse riding. The sending of the messenger was then done year after year and developed into the festival that it is today. Now, the messanger leads six hundred people, thirty-six horses, four cows, adn two ox carts to the two temples associated with the festival, Shimogamo Shrine and Kamigamo Shrine. Before beginning the procession, the festival also has horse racing and mounted archery demonstrations. It is a truely beautiful sight to behold, and the people in the ancient outfits make you feel as if you have a view into the past. If you would like to know more please take a look at the Wikipedia page on Aoi Matsuri. Here are a few pictures that we took today. We hope you enjoy them."