The grounds of the Imperial Palace were bursting with people, but Etsuyo and I arrived at the perfect time to grab a spot behind some students who were more interested in playing cards on the ground. As the Aoi Matsuri* spilled out from Palace, the weather was perfect for taking photos of the bright costumes and beautiful horses.
The festival was worth getting sunburnt over, and for an hour we stood and watched the colourful parade as the ancient couple next to me gave a running commentary that helped me understand that for some this event still plays an important role in their beliefs. My only complaint is that the flowers used to decorate carts and umbrellas were all clearly plastic. As the festival is named after hollyhocks, it seemed a little odd that they were fake. Real flowers might have looked a bit sad when attacked by the wind, but the authenticity might have made it more meaningful somehow. A great day. It means I have now seen all of Kyoto's three great festivals.