Though the Heian Period probably evokes more images of poetry and courtly love affairs than daring action, there was still plenty of work for the kebiishi, the peacekeepers of the time. Though the Heian court’s police force is now long gone, they remain a fixture of Japanese police history, and, in fact, served as the inspiration for the new uniforms to be worn by the Kyoto mounted police at this year Jidai Festival!


Believed to have been established around 816, the kebiishi was, during the Heian Period, basically the police force of Japan. They probably looked something a bit like the picture above.

If you’re fan of Japanese history, there’s a good chance you think the kebiishi looked pretty badass—we can’t be alone in this, right? Well, it looks like the Kyoto mounted police certainly thought so, as they’ve commissioned the Heian-style uniforms seen below for their officers to wear during the upcoming Jidai Matsuri (Period Festival) to be held this Thursday in Kyoto.

▼ Even the horses have cute hats!

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The uniforms don’t look to be 100 percent accurate recreations of the clothing worn by the ninth century kebiishi, but they are clearly inspired by the nearly 1,200-year-old garb. Also, they have those hats! These photos are actually the first we’re seeing of the outfits, so the officers’ ride in the procession will be the first official appearance of the new uniforms.

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For all you costume designers out there, you’ll probably be interested to know that the uniforms are made in the Nishijin-ori style, a type of weaving practiced in the Nishijin district in Kyoto. Though we have a feeling they’re not going to be available for purchase by the public…

Festival Information
Start location: Kyoto Imperial Palace
End location: Heian Jingu Shrine
Start time: Around noon (The procession will last approximately 2 hours.)
Reserved seats are available (but not required) for 2,050 yen (about US$17).

Sources: Japaaan, Sankei, Jidai Matsuri
Top image: Screenshot Twitter/Japaaan