Kyoto is beautiful in October, when palace and temple gardens are aglow with the blaze of autumn. It is also when the Jidai Matsuri (Festival of the Ages) takes place - a feast of incredible colour and elegance, involving 2,000 participants wearing costumes from the Heian to the Meiji periods. The procession starts at noon, heading from the Imperial Palace to the Heian Shrine, but don't wait until then. Go to the palace early in the morning when it's quiet and watch the performers getting ready. The 'samurai' are happy to chat and pose, and you can snap a close-up of ladies in the beautiful and complex kimonos of the Imperial Court.
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