October Event Highlights
*Time, dates and information of events are subject to change.
The Jidai Matsuri Festival (Oct. 22)
The rich costume pageant portraying Kyoto's history
In 1895, Kyoto city held its first Jidai Matsuri Festival: a colorful, exotic costume parade dedicated to the Old Capital's 1100 year history. The first festival also marked the opening of Heian Shrine, a 2/3 scale model of Kyoto's original imperial palace. The shrine was specially built to enshrine the spirit of Emperor Kammu (reigning 781-806), who founded Kyoto in 794, and the city's last reigning emperor and Emperor Komei (reigning 1847-1866).
Today, after nearly 120 years, the Jidai Matsuri Festival continues to be a major focus of pride for the city of Kyoto. For most visitors, the festival's biggest attraction lies in the fantastic range of authentic historical costumes, covering twelve centuries of Kyoto's history and social development, worn by the participants.
The festival begins at seven in the morning on the 22nd with the transferal, on sacred palanquins, a covered seat carried on poles on the shoulders of two or four people, of the imperial spirits from Heian Shrine to the Old Imperial Palace. At around 12:00, the southern central axis of the Old Imperial Palace becomes a massive stage of the ages. The procession departs from here and slowly makes its way through the streets of Kyoto to Heian Shrine. See the map below for the procession route, details and approximate procession passing times.
Until Oct. 27
KYOTO EXPERIMENT 2013
KYOTO EXPERIMENT, Kyoto's first international performing arts festival, started in 2010; Groups from all over Japan and countries from around the world perform a wide range of dances and theatrical events including Butoh, European ballet, Japanese contemporary art, and more; Performances will be mainly held at the Kyoto Art Center, the Kyoto Art Theatre Shunjuza (Kyoto University of Art & Design), Kyoto Prefecture Hall Alti; Tickets are available at the Kyoto Art Center; For details and ticket info, visit the event website; Tel: 075-213-5839; kyoto-ex.jp
Oct. 31-Nov. 4
Special Autumn Opening of the Kyoto Imperial Palace
People can enter the Imperial Palace without pre-applying during this period; No registration is required during this special period (admission free); 9:00-15:30; Access: Karasuma subway line, Imadegawa Stn. or Marutamachi Stn.; Imperial Household Agency: Tel: 075-211-1211; sankan.kunaicho.go.jp/
Until Dec. 29
Sagano Sightseeing Tram Ride
The Sagano Sightseeing Tram route (7.3 km) runs from Saga to Kameoka along a gorgeous river gorge and passes through 8 old tunnels; No service on Wed. (except for holidays and tourist season); 600 yen (one way); Access: JR Saga Arashiyama Stn.; Sagano Kanko Tetsudo: Tel: 075-861-7444; www.sagano-kanko.co.jp/
Hozugawa Kudari River Run
The Hozugawa Kudari is a river ride that goes from Kameoka to Arashiyama, Kyoto (about 16 km in 2 hours) along a stunning river gorge of rapids with wonderful mountain views; Tickets: 3,900 yen; Boats depart every hour between 9:00-14:00 (the last boat departs at 15:30); Access: An 8-min. walk from the north exit of JR Sagano Line Kameoka Stn.; Hozugawa Yusen Association: Tel: 0771-22-5846; www.hozugawakudari.jp/
Autumn Geiko and Maiko Dance Performances
Every autumn, geiko and maiko in each of their major districts, kagai, perform their elegant dances.
Mizue-kai annual dance performance of Miyagawacho (2012)
Onshukai in Gion Kobu
Reserved seats: 8,000 yen, non-reserved seats: 4,000 yen; From 16:00; Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Gion; Gion Kobu Kabukai: Tel: 075-561-1115; www.miyako-odori.jp
Kotobukikai in Kamishichiken
Reserved seats: 7,000 yen; From 16:00; Access: Kyoto City Bus #50, get off at Kamishichiken; Kamishichiken Kabukai: Tel: 075-461-0148; www.maiko3.com
Mizuekai in Miyagawacho
Reserved first seats: 7,000 yen, second seats: 4,000 yen; From 16:00; Access: Keihan Gion Shijo Stn.; Miyagawacho Kabukai: Tel: 075-561-1151; www.miyagawacho.jp/
Suimeikai in Pontocho
Reserved seats: 8,000 yen, non-reserved seat: 3,000 yen; From 16:00; Access: Kyoto City Bus #205, get off at Kawaramachi Sanjo; Pontocho Kabukai: Tel: 075-221-2025; www1.odn.ne.jp/~adw58490/
Zuiki Festival at Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine
This festival is held to celebrate the autumn harvest; Two mikoshi portable shrines, decorated with zuiki (taro stems), will be displayed and paraded around the area; Access: Kyoto City Bus #50, get off at Kitano Tenmangu-mae; Tel: 075-461-0005; kitanotenmangu.or.jp/
Kyoto Antique Fair at Pulse Plaza
About 350 antique dealers from all over Japan sell all kinds of antique goods; This is one of the largest fairs of this kind in Japan with over 1,500,000 items on offer; 10:00-17:00 (until 16:00 on the last day); Access: Kyoto City Bus Minami #1, 2, 3 from Takeda subway Stn.; Tel: 077-522-2307 (Gomokudo).
Autumn Harvest Festival at Shimogamo Shrine
During this autumn festival, held from 13:30, people pray for a good harvest and good luck in business; Traditional entertainment and music will also be performed; Access: Kyoto City Bus #205, get off at Shimogamojinja-mae; Tel: 075-781-0010; www.shimogamo-jinja.or.jp
Oct. 12 & 13
Autumn Konpira Festival at Yasui Konpira-gu Shrine
Pre-festival ceremonies will be held from 20:00 on the 12th; The main festival ceremony will be held on the 13th from 13:00; After the ceremony on the 13th, a mikoshi portable shrine carried by children will transported around the neighborhood; Access: Kyoto City Bus #206, get off at Higashiyama Yasui; Tel: 075-561-5127; www.yasui-konpiragu.or.jp
Mibu Kyogen at Mibu Temple
Mibu Kyogen is an ancient form of silent theatre in which performers wearing special masks dance to the music of bells, drums and flutes; Five different plays will be performed each day between 13:00 and 17:30; 800 yen; Access: Kyoto City Bus #26, get off at Mibudera-michi; Tel: 075-841-3381; www.kyoto.zaq.ne.jp/mibu/
Doll Memorial Service at Hokyo-ji Temple
This temple possesses dolls belonged to successive imperial princesses; Today, the general public also bring their Japanese dolls (traditionally used as a form of protection for girls) to this memorial service; The reception starts at 10:00 and the ceremony starts from 10:30; A dance performance by a geisha from the Shimabara district will also be featured; Access: Kyoto City Bus #9, get off at Horikawa Teranouchi; Tel: 075-451-1550; www.hokyoji.net/
Kiyomizu-yaki Danchi Pottery Festival in Yamashina
Colorful Kiyomizu-yaki ceramics are one of Kyoto's most popular craft forms; On these three days, many stalls near the major kilns in Yamashina will be selling all kinds of ceramic work at very reasonable prices; Hands-on pottery experience, live music performances and other events will also be staged; 9:30-18:00; A special shuttle bus service between Kyoto Stn. and the event venue will run all three days (departing every 15 min.); Tel: 075-581-6188.
Kasagake Ritual at Kamigamo Shrine
Kasagake, dating back about 800 years, is Japan's oldest horseback archery ritual (during which arrows are shot from a galloping horse); This interesting & dynamic event begins at 13:00; Access: Kyoto City Bus #4, get off at Kamigamojinja-mae; Tel: 075-781-0011; www.kamigamojinja.jp
Twenty-five Bosatsu Procession at Sokujo-in Temple in Sennyu-ji Temple
On this day, from 13:00, 25 children wearing gorgeous masks and Buddhist costumes will walk through the precinct with about 200 other participants; 1,000 yen; Access: Kyoto City Bus #208, get off at Sennyuji-michi; Tel: 075-561-3443; www.gokurakujyoudo.org
Saigu Procession at Nonomiya Shrine and Togetsu-kyo Bridge
In ancient times, the imperial family sent their princesses to Ise Shrine in Mie Prefecture to serve as shrine maidens; Based on this history, a gorgeous Heian period procession passes through the Arashiyama area; The procession departs from Nonomiya Shrine at noon and goes over the Togetsu-kyo Bridge, and finally arrives at Arashiyama Port (at 13:30); After the procession, a purification ritual is held from 14:00; Access: Kyoto City Bus #28, get off at Nonomiya; Tel: 075-871-1972; www.nonomiya.com/
Kurama Fire Festival in Kurama
The festival begins at sunset with the lighting of fire lanterns in front of each house; The highlight of the festival is watching the men in traditional clothing as they walk up through the village straining under the weight of huge fire torches (5-6 meters long, weighing over 100 kg); Around 20:00, a group of cheering men race up the stairs to Yuki Shrine carrying a large mikoshi (portable shrine) to make the annual offering to the gods; Access: Eizan Railways Kurama Stn. (from Demachiyanagi Stn.; *The train after 17:00 or so, expect to wait in line and be packed in; It's best to go early and leave early.
Temple & Shrine Flea Markets
Oct. 6, Sun.
To-ji Temple: This market is focused on antiques of all kinds; Usually not too crowded and great value all around; 7:00-16:00.
Oct. 6 & 20, Sun.
Kyoto City Hall: A big public flea market; 10:00-17:00.
Oct. 8, Tues.
Toyokuni Shrine: A very small market of local products; 10:00-15:00.
Oct. 15, Tues.
Chion-ji Temple: Kyoto's biggest handicraft market; An absolutely amazing range of handmade things and incredible prices too!; 8:00-16:00.
Oct. 21, Mon.
To-ji Temple: Also known as Kobo-san, this mega temple market offers everything and is extremely popular; Go early, especially if on a weekend or a national holiday; 7:00-17:00.
Oct. 25, Fri.
Kitano Tenman-gu Shrine: Also known as Tenjin-san, this super shrine market sprawls in and around this major shrine complex; 7:00-16:30.
NOTE: Markets shut down much earlier in autumn and winter; when the days get longer and warmer sellers tend to stay a little longer.